Friday, September 2, 2016

Split Decision, Con't

If you want to know why Democrats aren't running away with significantly more GOP Senate seats at this point, it's because there are somewhat more people who will vote for Clinton, but will still consider Republicans down ballot.

In what could be good news for endangered Republican senators up for re-election this fall, a majority of Hillary Clinton supporters say they are likely to split the ticket — that is, vote for the Democratic presidential candidate but then support some GOP candidates for the Senate or other offices down the ballot.

In a nationwide USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll, a third of Clinton's supporters, 32%, say they are "very likely" to split their votes, and another 20% say they are "somewhat" likely. Twenty percent say they are "not very likely" to split the ticket, and 23% say they'll vote for Democratic candidates up and down the ballot.

In contrast, a majority of Donald Trump supporters say they probably or definitely will vote only for Republicans. A third, 33%, say they plan to vote a straight GOP ticket up and down the ballot, and another 20% say they are "not very likely" to vote for Democratic candidates for other offices.

So yes, the good news is Clinton is peeling off a lot of GOP support, but that's not translating into coattails down the ballot.  Why?  The fear factor seems to be a pretty good explanation.

Driving the election is antipathy toward the competition: 80% of Trump supporters and 62% of Clinton supporters say if the other candidate wins in November, they would feel "scared," the most negative of four possible choices.

Those are stronger feelings than they express about a victory by their own candidate. Just 27% of Clinton supporters and 29% of Trump supporters would feel "excited," the most positive choice. A majority of both sides — 62% for Clinton and 52% for Trump — predict a more temperate "satisfied" feeling instead.

"I honestly think she'll be a good president, as flawed as she is," says Carol Fisher, 56, a Clinton supporter and registered nurse from Teaneck, N.J., who was among those surveyed. "And I believe the alternative of a Trump presidency would be disastrous, not just for our country but for the whole world." While she usually votes for Democratic candidates, she says, "I've never been so afraid of a Republican before."

Noel Hartman, 64, of Humboldt, Ariz., feels the same way about Clinton.

"The one word that really stands out is 'above the law,' " the retired farmer and rancher said in a follow-up phone interview. "I mean, anything that she ever did has never been accounted for, and she gets by with just laughing it off." He's supporting Trump. "I know he doesn't say stuff right, but I'm so tired of being lied to," Hartman says. "I'm hoping for change."

Republicans are well versed in fear driving everything they do, fear of an America that embraces new ideas, other cultures, and other people.  But voters aren't pegging that fear of Trump to other Republicans, at least not yet.

That will probably change as Trump grows more and more desperate, if this week is any indication.

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