The other day someone asked me who I thought was going to win the election. "Donald Trump," I replied. The person was surprised. "But I thought you wanted Clinton?" "I do," I replied. "But you didn't ask me who I wanted to win, you asked me who I thought would win. Those are two different things." The person was genuinely confused, and it took some more explaining before it clicked. To be honest I am not entirely sure it ever did. I kind of got the feeling they just wanted the conversation to be over.
Is this an unusual position? Do most people automatically believe that the candidate they want to win will be the one who actually wins? I have never made that assumption. Just because I want something does not make it so. Since I started voting in 1992, I have cast presidential ballots for Bill Clinton twice, Al Gore, John Kerry, and Barack Obama twice. Only three times (Clinton in '96 and Obama in '08 and '12) have I felt confident that my candidate was going to win.
Two other times (Clinton in '92 and Gore in '00) I tentatively believed that my candidate would win. But by election day 2004 I believed that John Kerry was going to lose, although I hoped I was wrong. That is exactly the way I feel about Hillary Clinton.
Please do not misunderstand me. As I think I have made clear in my long history of posting about politics on these forums, I am not a huge Hillary Clinton fan. I supported Bernie Sanders in the primaries, and I believe the future of the Democratic party lies with progressives. But I see her as the lesser of two evils. I do not think much would change under a President Hillary Clinton, but neither do I think it would be an unmitigated disaster without historical precedent, as I believe Donald Trump becoming president would be.
I follow these things pretty closely (CNN is on in my house basically all the time), so I am fully aware that most indicators suggest that Hillary Clinton will win. Nate Silver currently gives her a 64.7% chance of winning. But two weeks ago her chances were 85%. And anyway, predictions are only useful if the polls upon which they are based are accurate. I keep thinking about the much-cited Brexit vote earlier this year, in which all the polls indicated that the measure would fail by a comfortable margin. In the end it passed with 52% support. It turned out there was something out there the polls were missing, a groundswell of anger and resentment among working-class white voters — especially older, especially male — toward a system they viewed as corrupt and not having their best interests at heart.
I think there is a similar groundswell here in the United States this year. And I do not believe polling adequately reflects it. Despite all the empirical evidence, my gut feeling is that Donald Trump is going to win. I hope I am wrong. I really, really hope I am wrong.
(Note: this poll is reality-based. Therefore there is no option to choose anyone but Clinton or Trump for who you believe will win. You can still support whomever you want, of course. But realistically there is no chance that it will be anyone other than one of the two major party nominees. And no, I don't like it either. But it is what it is. For now.)