WASHINGTON – First of all, our prayers are with the people suffering in the wake of Hurricane Matthew.
With a month remaining in this presidential campaign, if you are among the many who haven’t decided, don’t look to voter opinion polls to help you make up your mind. They will be of no use in a race as volatile as this one.
This year, a completely new factor has surfaced: That’s the supporter of Republican Donald J. Trump who won’t tell anyone his voting plans – not his barber, not his bartender and certainly not his 50-plus wife.
A recent Rasmussen Poll showed that 17 percent of Republican respondents declined to say who they planned to vote for versus 10 percent of Democrats, if you can believe that poll.
One reason for this reticence is the effort of mainstream media, with the exception of Fox News, to portray Trump as a loudmouth opportunist, which he probably is, and the fear of his supporters of joining him in disrepute. But they are surely out there.
This is written before Sunday’s second presidential debate, but on Thursday night Gov. Mike Pence, Trump’s running mate, announced the ticket leader has backed off his proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the United States. It was Trump’s most attention-getting statement of his campaign.
And McClatchy News Service reports that Trump is now saying that his earlier negative comments about women, that some were “pigs” and “slobs,” were made for “entertainment purposes” when he hosted a TV show. How Trump’s retreats will affect his standing with Muslims or women is only a wild guess.
The surveys are complicated, of course, by the indelible dislike, hardening into hatred of many males, and some females, believing that Clinton’s calculated campaign is nothing more than a sop to women, and because they believe, with justification, most national media and the Justice Department are in the tank for her.
For example, there is virtually no reporting on the latest developments on her email troubles, including the FBI’s giving permission to potential witnesses to destroy evidence already under congressional subpoena.
Others resent her calling Trump supporters “deplorables” and “irredeemable,” giving her campaign an elite or insider cast.
As capricious as this campaign is, it is not a replay of the 1948 test between Republican New York Gov. Thomas E. Dewey and Democratic President Harry S. Truman, where the entire media and the polls were famously wrong.
Pollster Elmo Roper stopped sampling two months before the election, sure that Dewey would sweep. George Gallup forecast a GOP victory by 5 points. A Newsweek survey of 50 political writers showed they all chose Dewey. So much for conventional wisdom.
This is not the Democratic Party of 1960 when Sen. John F. Kennedy nosed out Republican Vice President Richard M. Nixon. In the first place, ordinary people in Flyover America no longer have media voices speaking in their behalf the way the variety of locally owned newspapers and broadcasters did in 1960.
The Democratic Party, especially in the last eight years, has become an engine of revolutionary, if not radical, change. Under President Obama, the party has become the unabashed presidio of an expanding bureaucracy, presidential power, the welfare state, the sexual revolution and spreading urban dissent.
Along with this, the Democrats are the political power behind an Orwellian doublethink we have come to call politically correct speech and behavior.
At the same time, the Republican Party, which reluctantly nominated Trump, is no longer a national party. “Not even of any kind,” as the playwright Oscar Wilde would say.