Clinton favoured to win election but Trumpism is not going away

If Clinton is sworn in on Janu­ary 20th as US first female president, she will face challenge of pushing through her proposed policies in a political envi­ronment that will remain highly polarised.

US Democratic Party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign rally in Dade City, Florida, on November 1st. (AP)


2016/11/06 Issue: 80 Page: 13


The Arab Weekly
Mark Habeeb



Washington - Opinion polls indicate that Hillary Clinton will be elected president of the United States but the re­sult is likely to be signifi­cantly closer than seemed possible a few weeks ago.

Clinton’s lead, once double digits in some polls, narrowed considera­bly in the last week of the campaign. Clinton, however, leads in many heavily populated states, which gives her an advantage in the deci­sive electoral college.

Under the US system, the winner is not necessarily the candidate who wins the popular vote but the one who secures the majority of elec­toral votes — each state is assigned a certain number based on its con­gressional representation — with 270 needed to win.

A recent count indicated that Clinton was leading polls in states accounting for 224 electoral votes to Trump’s 180. States worth a total of 134 electoral votes were considered toss-ups.

Several factors account for the late surge in Trump’s support. For one, Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson has seen his support in polls fall from 10-12% to less than 5%. Apparently, more of the vot­ers who are defecting from John­son’s camp have decided to support Trump over Clinton.

Another factor eating into Clin­ton’s earlier strong lead was the rev­elation by FBI Director James Comey that the agency was investigating a new batch of e-mails related to Clin­ton that were found on a computer of the estranged husband of Clin­ton’s close adviser Huma Abedin.

While Comey did not make spe­cific allegations of wrongdoing and acknowledged that the investigation may not reveal any, the announce­ment bolstered Trump’s attack that Clinton is “corrupt” and will face criminal charges if elected presi­dent. It also served to deflect atten­tion from the swirl of allegations that Trump has a history of sexual improprieties and even sexual as­sault.

While a Trump victory seems highly unlikely, so does a Clinton landslide — something that seemed very possible as recently as two weeks ago. An extremely close race, particularly narrow outcomes in key battleground states, could lead Trump to declare that the election was a fraud. Even if the election outcome is by a sufficiently wide margin to make fraud allegations unreasonable, it is all but certain: Trumpism will survive November 8th.

Trump has demonstrated that a substantial portion of the US public feels anger towards establishment politicians, frustration over eco­nomic stagnation, hostility to free trade and open borders and fear over terrorism. The fact that Trump’s strongest support comes from older, non-college educated white males would suggest that fear of minori­ties, including Muslims, also is a key factor in his support.

If Clinton is sworn in on Janu­ary 20th as the United States’ first female president, she will face the challenge of pushing through her proposed policies in a political envi­ronment that will remain highly po­larised. The Democrats may capture control of the US Senate by a one- or two-seat margin but the US House of Representatives almost certainly will remain under Republican con­trol.

Rumours abound that Trump is planning to start a television net­work to continue his movement to “Make America Great Again”. Even if he does not, a close election will inspire him to stay in the spotlight — a place he enjoys being and where the ratings-obsessed US media en­joy having him. To the dismay of the Republican Party establishment, fu­ture Republican candidates may feel a need to secure Trump’s blessing or at least to not anger him.

In short, the forecast is for politi­cal gridlock and continued divisive rhetoric. In such an environment, Clinton may find herself spend­ing more time on foreign policy, an arena in which the executive branch has amassed greater control. It remains to be seen whether as US president she will be able to devel­op respect and legitimacy overseas when her former opponent stays on television decrying her as “corrupt” and as someone who “should be in prison”.

Clinton would be faring much bet­ter if the electorate included resi­dents of the Arab world. In a poll of 3,200 people in eight Arab countries conducted by the Qatari-affiliated Arab Center Washington, Clinton was the favoured candidate for pres­ident by 66% to 11%. Moroccans and Tunisians were Clinton’s strongest supporters, while Egyptians came in last (but still gave her 56%). Overall, 56% of respondents said they had a positive view of Clinton and 60% stated a negative view of Trump.

If the Arab world had electoral votes, Clinton would coast to vic­tory.


Mark Habeeb is East-West editor of The Arab Weekly and adjunct professor of Global Politics and Security at Georgetown University in Washington.


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