Minds Made Up

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So. There’s an election in a few weeks, and it looks as if it might be close.

Half a year ago, I noted that Hillary Clinton had been unusually famous for an unusually long time, for a Presidential candidate. I said that people had already made up their minds about her. At the time, her favorables were around 51/42; they’re now around 55/42 with a peak of 56/38 and a low of 50/45—in other words, we have, in fact, already made up our minds about her, or at least 90% of us have. Which is a lot.

Fred pointed out that Donald Trump has also been a celebrity for a long time, which is true. I still, at that point, didn’t believe he would be the nominee, but dang if he isn’t… well, his favorables back on February 3 were 34/58; they’re now around 39/57 with a peak of 36/57 and a low of 29/64. That’s a little more variability (and I, for one, have learned a great deal more about the man and his various “businesses” since February, tho’ in truth it hasn’t changed my opinion of him) but again it seems as if 90% of people made up their minds long ago and aren’t changing them.

This all seems very different to John McCain and Barack Obama in 2008, for instance. Sen. McCain’s favorables went from 48/38 to 62/30 to 33/34 to something around 53/45. Barack Obama was around 60/30 in February, and then went up and down before settling around 55/40 shortly before the election. If I’m reading the numbers right. Anyway, there was a lot more bouncing around—the percentage of people who made up their minds early was more like 60 or 70. Which makes sense to me, as that’s about the number of partisans minus the partisans whose refusal to admit they’re partisans includes not committing to the candidate until close to the election. This year I suspect a lot of those people were willing to at least express their feelings about the other party’s candidate.

Well, anyway. I mostly wanted to update the note about celebrity. And note, I suppose, that very few people at this point are going to be surprised by some story about Mr. Trump’s business shenanigans, or his lies, or his ignorance, or his horrible vicious bigotry. Nobody who currently supports the man’s campaign is going to change his mind because there is another example, more egregious than the last. And in truth, nobody who currently supports Ms. Clinton’s campaign is going to change her mind because of another example of (f’r’ex) untruthfulness, secrecy, hawkishness… or for that matter an incidence, fact or fiction, of illness or security lapse. We pass these around to ourselves because they are entertaining and informative, because they are a bridge to actual participation, and because, perhaps, on some level we can’t really believe that the other party’s partisans are so partisan as to support their party’s candidate despite this new piece of information that is so much like the last one.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,

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