Politics: Beneath all the drama, a remarkably stable campaign

globe ———————————————————— ** http://latimes.us10.list-manage2.com/track/click?u=f089ecc9238c5ee13b8e5f471&id=f29bc91ca6&e=2522ea46b6 ———————————————————— ** Essential Politics ———————————————————— Send to a Friend (mailto:?subject=Politics: Beneath all the drama, a remarkably stable campaign&body=http://www.latimes.com/la-pol-essential-politics-20161028-story.html) | View in browser (http://latimes.us10.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=f089ecc9238c5ee13b8e5f471&id=2f9ff641c9&e=2522ea46b6) “Polls tightening,” “race shifting,” “unexpected revelation”: The presidential race has hit the point at which no development seems too small for a blare of trumpeting headlines. Both campaigns — one to avoid complacency, the other to keep from depressing turnout — as well as much of the news media, share an interest in portraying volatility and uncertainty in the presidential race. The data tell a different story: This is a campaign in which it would be a major surprise to see any big, last-minute shift, even from a splashy headline like today’s news of the FBI looking at newly discovered Clinton emails (http://latimes.us10.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=f089ecc9238c5ee13b8e5f471&id=3b174a55b3&e=2522ea46b6) . Why? Read on. Good afternoon, I’m David Lauter, (http://latimes.us10.list-manage2.com/track/click?u=f089ecc9238c5ee13b8e5f471&id=4e392af7a7&e=2522ea46b6) Washington bureau chief. Welcome to the Friday edition of our Essential Politics newsletter, in which we look at the events of the week in the presidential campaign and highlight some particularly insightful stories. ADVERTISEMENT http://latimes.us10.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=f089ecc9238c5ee13b8e5f471&id=d0176b46be&e=2522ea46b6 http://latimes.us10.list-manage2.com/track/click?u=f089ecc9238c5ee13b8e5f471&id=c623810016&e=2522ea46b6 http://latimes.us10.list-manage.com/track/click?u=f089ecc9238c5ee13b8e5f471&id=409ac03177&e=2522ea46b6 ** THE STEADY STATE CAMPAIGN ———————————————————— Polls disagree about where, exactly the race stands. At one end of the spectrum, a few surveys, like our USC/L.A. Times “Daybreak” tracking poll (http://latimes.us10.list-manage.com/track/click?u=f089ecc9238c5ee13b8e5f471&id=0ef20ab18a&e=2522ea46b6) , have shown Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in or near a tie. At the other end, some recent polls have shown Clinton as much as 13 or 14 points ahead. That’s the sort of variability one should expect from polls, which is why it’s good to watch the averages. They show Clinton with a lead of five (http://latimes.us10.list-manage.com/track/click?u=f089ecc9238c5ee13b8e5f471&id=0117bb1e18&e=2522ea46b6) to seven (http://latimes.us10.list-manage.com/track/click?u=f089ecc9238c5ee13b8e5f471&id=ca3846ad33&e=2522ea46b6) points. Surveys in key states have been consistent with a national margin of that size. And with the exception of a few short periods — around the conventions and the week in mid-September that was dominated by stories about Clinton’s bout with pneumonia — the gap between the two has stood at roughly that level week after week, ever since Trump won his party’s nomination. Because the Daybreak tracking poll uses a panel of roughly 3,200 respondents who are repeatedly surveyed, it provides particularly helpful data on trends in the race. That’s regardless of the question of whether the poll tilts toward Trump, as many critics say. Any shifts in the poll represent actual people changing their minds, rather than a change in who responds to a survey from week to week. Since the end of the second debate on Oct. 9, the Daybreak poll has shown little movement, with a small uptick for Trump in the last several days that is well within the poll’s margin of error. The stability of the race appears in other measures too. Today, roughly 60% of Americans have an unfavorable view of Trump, and about 35% view him favorably. That’s been true since February. Almost all year, the share of Americans with an unfavorable view of Clinton has held at 52%-55%. The share with a favorable view has grown a few points since early July, mostly as more Democrats have warmed to her, and now stands at around 45%. Why so little change? The answer lies in plain sight: This race features two candidates about whom most Americans had firm views long before the campaign began. Clinton has been prominent on the national political stage for a generation. Trump has been a major part of the country’s celebrity culture for even longer; his book “The Art of the Deal” dates to 1987. Indeed, one would have to go back decades — perhaps to the 1980 campaign between President Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, then the former governor of California, to find a race between two people who were so well known on the day they declared their candidacies. Add to that the rising level of partisanship in the country, which leads most voters to choose a candidate months before the election, and the result is a recipe for stasis despite all the frantic activity of a campaign. Trump occasionally has picked up ground for short periods, but he has always fallen back. His deep unpopularity with blacks, Latinos and majorities of women and college-educated white voters puts a hard, and fairly low, ceiling on his support. Clinton has sometimes seemed on the verge of building the sort of massive lead that could deliver a landslide, but she has never quite gotten there. She has consolidated Democratic support and has carved off a slice of mostly college-educated Republicans and independents, but the dislike for her that many other Republicans have nurtured for decades makes further progress very hard. The steady drip of stolen emails released by WikiLeaks probably reinforces resistance to Clinton among at least some Republicans. Joe Tanfani had this look at one of the most interesting of the recent emails (http://latimes.us10.list-manage.com/track/click?u=f089ecc9238c5ee13b8e5f471&id=1ffc97e4a1&e=2522ea46b6) , disclosing the tension between Chelsea Clinton and her father’s longtime aide, Doug Band. ** THE ELECTION IS ALREADY UNDERWAY ———————————————————— If the stability of the race were not enough to make a last-minute shift unlikely, there’s this: Millions of people already have voted. As of Friday morning, the count had reached more than 17 million votes cast, according to statistics compiled by University of Florida professor Michael McDonald, who is one of the country’s leading experts on voter turnout. That’s well over 10% of the expected total turnout this year (in 2012, just short of 127 million people voted), and early voting is likely to pick up significantly this weekend. And while we’re on that topic, another of Tanfani’s stories bears mention: There’s no evidence to back up the idea that voting by illegal residents is widespread (http://latimes.us10.list-manage.com/track/click?u=f089ecc9238c5ee13b8e5f471&id=5dc942804d&e=2522ea46b6) . As Melanie Mason wrote, reviewing the early vote so far, the data indicate a strong turnout for Democrats in a number of key states (http://latimes.us10.list-manage.com/track/click?u=f089ecc9238c5ee13b8e5f471&id=7353b735a3&e=2522ea46b6) , including Florida and Colorado. Republicans could take cheer from good numbers for their side in Iowa and Ohio. ** DON’T FORGET THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE ———————————————————— The early vote reinforces the pattern that polling already has indicated: Trump has a shot at picking up some states in the Midwest that President Obama carried in 2008 and 2012, with Iowa currently the most likely to flip. But in states across the South, from North Carolina to Florida and on west to Texas and Arizona, the antipathy Trump has stirred among minority voters, combined with weak support among college-educated whites, puts the GOP candidate at risk. As our interactive electoral map shows, (http://latimes.us10.list-manage.com/track/click?u=f089ecc9238c5ee13b8e5f471&id=2b444b7462&e=2522ea46b6) Clinton currently leads in more than enough states to secure the White House. While some of those are closer than others, the ones Clinton truly needs appear pretty well locked down. Pennsylvania, for example, has been the subject of more than 40 polls since June; Trump led in just one, released in the second week of July. One state that’s an unexpected toss-up: Utah, where a third-party candidate, Evan McMullin, may be able to inch past Trump and Clinton (http://latimes.us10.list-manage.com/track/click?u=f089ecc9238c5ee13b8e5f471&id=23c166ee28&e=2522ea46b6) . Melanie Mason profiles the man who could be the first third-party candidate to win a state since George Wallace in 1968. Winning requires 270 electoral votes. How to get there? We’ve updated the map with our best estimates. Check it out, play political strategist and try out as many scenarios as you like. ** THE CLINTON COALITION ———————————————————— The prospect that Clinton would become the nation’s first female president has not seemed to stir voters the same way that Obama’s quest to become the first African American chief executive did. But as Cathy Decker wrote, Clinton has begun to tap into another source of energy: women’s anger at Trump (http://latimes.us10.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=f089ecc9238c5ee13b8e5f471&id=6b0fc6824d&e=2522ea46b6) . The Democrats’ dominance among women this year has expanded to include not only unmarried women, but married ones as well — the first time since 1996 that a majority of wives appears likely to vote for a Democratic presidential nominee. For some couples, that’s a source of tension and even deception (http://latimes.us10.list-manage.com/track/click?u=f089ecc9238c5ee13b8e5f471&id=bc3897b170&e=2522ea46b6) , Evan Halper wrote. Minority voters are the other big part of the Clinton equation. Boosting turnout, particularly among younger black voters (http://latimes.us10.list-manage.com/track/click?u=f089ecc9238c5ee13b8e5f471&id=83b149ef69&e=2522ea46b6) , was central to her swing through North Carolina this week, Chris Megerian wrote. The man in charge of making sure that election day turnout plans work is the campaign’s highest-ranking black official. Mike Memoli profiled Marlon Marshall (http://latimes.us10.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=f089ecc9238c5ee13b8e5f471&id=74633af991&e=2522ea46b6) . One key to making the Democratic election plan work is the unprecedented level of help that Clinton has gotten from the current occupants of the White House. Christi Parsons has this look at Obama as he campaigns for Clinton and his legacy (http://latimes.us10.list-manage.com/track/click?u=f089ecc9238c5ee13b8e5f471&id=b98ea09511&e=2522ea46b6) . ** THE FIGHT FOR CONGRESS ———————————————————— With Trump’s chances growing slimmer by the day, attention — and money — have shifted to the fight for control of Congress, particularly the Senate (http://latimes.us10.list-manage.com/track/click?u=f089ecc9238c5ee13b8e5f471&id=bf0974195e&e=2522ea46b6) , as Lisa Mascaro explained. Decker had this look at one of the closest Senate fights — the one in Pennsylvania (http://latimes.us10.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=f089ecc9238c5ee13b8e5f471&id=2696701f11&e=2522ea46b6) , where the incumbent Republican, Sen. Pat Toomey, resolutely refuses to say if he’ll vote for Trump. ** FOLLOW OUR TRACKING POLL ———————————————————— The USC Dornsife/L.A. Times tracking poll (http://latimes.us10.list-manage.com/track/click?u=f089ecc9238c5ee13b8e5f471&id=8091b5afc6&e=2522ea46b6) has been tracing Trump’s and Clinton’s trajectories (http://latimes.us10.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=f089ecc9238c5ee13b8e5f471&id=c5524a16da&e=2522ea46b6) since early summer. The poll has consistently shown a better result for Trump than most other surveys. Why is it different? Here are several of the reasons. (http://latimes.us10.list-manage2.com/track/click?u=f089ecc9238c5ee13b8e5f471&id=a1140e7d15&e=2522ea46b6) ** QUESTIONS ABOUT TRUMP, CLINTON? WE’VE GOT ANSWERS ———————————————————— Where they stand on issues, what they’ve done in their lives, their successes, their failures, what their presidencies might look like: We’ve been writing about Clinton and Trump for years, and we’ve pulled the best of that content together to make finding what you want to know easier. So check out All Things Trump (http://latimes.us10.list-manage.com/track/click?u=f089ecc9238c5ee13b8e5f471&id=7dc20ba267&e=2522ea46b6) and All Things Clinton (http://latimes.us10.list-manage.com/track/click?u=f089ecc9238c5ee13b8e5f471&id=1d4840a777&e=2522ea46b6) . ** LOGISTICS ———————————————————— Miss yesterday’s newsletter? Here you go (http://latimes.us10.list-manage2.com/track/click?u=f089ecc9238c5ee13b8e5f471&id=4451f5b51a&e=2522ea46b6) . Did someone forward you this? Sign up here (http://latimes.us10.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=f089ecc9238c5ee13b8e5f471&id=a6f8fe3c93&e=2522ea46b6) to get Essential Politics in your inbox daily. That wraps up this week. My colleague Christina Bellantoni (http://latimes.us10.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=f089ecc9238c5ee13b8e5f471&id=82cef3f60d&e=2522ea46b6) will be back Monday with the weekday edition of Essential Politics. Until then, keep track of all the developments in the 2016 campaign with our Trail Guide (http://latimes.us10.list-manage.com/track/click?u=f089ecc9238c5ee13b8e5f471&id=b0b11e79d3&e=2522ea46b6) , at our Politics page (http://latimes.us10.list-manage2.com/track/click?u=f089ecc9238c5ee13b8e5f471&id=d3aeed22c3&e=2522ea46b6) and on Twitter @latimespolitics (http://latimes.us10.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=f089ecc9238c5ee13b8e5f471&id=1a0467e5d0&e=2522ea46b6) . Please send thoughts, concerns and news tips to politics@latimes.com (mailto:politics@latimes.com) . mailto:?subject=Politics: Beneath all the drama, a remarkably stable campaign&body=http://www.latimes.com/la-pol-essential-politics-20161028-story.html http://latimes.us10.list-manage.com/track/click?u=f089ecc9238c5ee13b8e5f471&id=655957de6d&e=2522ea46b6 http://latimes.us10.list-manage2.com/track/click?u=f089ecc9238c5ee13b8e5f471&id=380bc03a42&e=2522ea46b6 Interested in advertising in the Essential Politics newsletter? Click here to learn more. 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