"She'll wipe the floor with him!"
"This will be epic; a landslide!"
Many of us who read, comment and post diaries here are political activists and polling junkies. 2 points change in Nebraska's Box Butte County Water Commissioner's race and the Kos website is plastered with diaries and comments proclaiming: "This is a bellwether for the state! Obama/Romney/Kerry/Nelson is going to romp/is DOOMED I tell ya!"
But if we lift our eyes from the daily deluge of polls that will be with us from now through November 6 (and the yeoman/yeowoman/yeoperson/yeodude work that Nir and Singiser do to post, analyze and just keep up with) it's important to keep in mind the 39% rule of Presidential Politics. In response to a comment I made recently, some crazy, mixed-up fans urged me to "make this comment into a DIARY!", I have unpacked, buttered and jellied this idea just below the Orange Croissant for your breakfast reading.
39% is basically the national floor for a major party presidential candidate. As far as nomenclature, a landslide generally kicks in at the 10 point margin level (e.g. 55-45 in a straight, 2-candidate race), but at the national, presidential level, the floor is 39%.
To the mutual disappointment of hard core Left wingers (some of whom visit/hang out here) and the proto-fascists on the Right (some of whom troll here, distinguished by their "free-form" spelling and "fact-free" assertions) the US is very much a centrist country when it comes to voting for president, despite all hopes & dreams to the contrary.
US parties overlap seriously in the political center and are best described as center-left and center-right (although the GOP is working on erasing everything to the left of their hyphen. Hell, given the chance, these whack jobs would likely fall to arguing which side of the hyphen is more significant among "Anglo-Saxon" circles!
"Saxons rock and rule!"
"It's a shoe!"
"It's a sandal!"
Small, high voice: "Follow the gourd!"
(Anglos & Saxons together:) "Damn Jutes!")
Remember, in 1932, thousands of banks had failed (FDIC & FSLIC had not yet been invented), unemployment stood at 25% (and no unemployment insurance), the Dow average had fallen 89% (!) from its 1929 peak, and the homeless were building "Hoovervilles" on the outskirts of towns and cities across the US.....and Republican incumbent Herbert Hoover lost. BUT he STILL got 39.7% of the vote! 39%. (You'd think if ever there was a situation to produce a 2 to 1 win this would be it, but...)
In 1964 the GOP nominated Goldwater, who was THE Mr. Conservative of his day, who wanted to "lob one into the men's room at the Kremlin" (i.e. a nuclear missle), voted against the Civil Rights bill and wanted to escalate the war in Vietnam. Lyndon Johnson clobbered him at the polls in a LANDSLIDE, yet Barry still got...38.5% of the national vote! 39%. (Liberals of the day thought if ever there was a candidate to produce a 2 to 1 win, this would be it, but...)
8 years later, in 1972, the Democrats nominated George McGovern, a man in favor of ending the Vietnam War...NOW!, declaring amnesty for draft dodgers, a relaxation of drug laws; a man who thought most abortions should be legal but limited (just like the Supreme Court would rule in Roe v. Wade in January of 1973), and who thought the federal government should attack poverty via a guaranteed minimum income provided by the Feds. Nixon leveled him in November, leaving Gorgeous George with....yep, 37.5% of the national vote. (Conservatives of the day thought if ever there was a candidate to produce a 2 to 1 win, this would be it, but...)
So BOTH national parties start with right around 39% of the national vote, every 4 years. The struggle, the money, the ads, the ground game every time is only about winning over 1/2 of the remaining 20% or so. But about 40% is locked in.
.....which DOES make Willard's inability this year to break out of the low 40s (42-43-44) in poll after poll for months rather significant. Not even adding Eddie Munster "all grown up" to the ticket seems to have mattered. Yes, Willard, you have your 40%. But what have you done or said to win over anyone else? When have you ever led in the nationals? 2 or 3% is pretty pathetic. Pathetic!
(Even Grumpy McCain finished with 45% and led in national polls between about Sept. 4-15 of 2008. Of course then McGrumps said he wanted to suspend his campaign to try to save Lehman Brothers---and did nothing...and Sarah the Supermom met Charlie Gibson and then Katie Couric by turns in front of a camera...live...without notes....and Sarah opened her mouth; after which Tina Fey saw Russia from her house and saved American Democracy.)
FWIW, from yust southeast of Lake Woebegon.