In overly simplified terms there are usually three types of voters.
Core voters – vote their party no matter what
Generalized voters – typically – but not always – vote their party.
Undecided voters – vote loosely and not consistently
This year I would re-classify voters into five new types:
Never Trump – You know who you are (Includes some Republicans)
Never Hillary – You also know who you are (Includes three Democrats)
Swing voter – Undecided (sort of)
Conscientious Objector – Protest non-vote (so far)
Silent and/or Embarrassed – A potentially blended category of Trump voters & Swing voters – and maybe Conscientious Objector voters
There is a very real sixth category of “It’s all about the Supreme Court” but these voters are by definition subsumed into either the Never Hillary or Never Trump categories.
These last three voting blocs (Swing, Conscientious, Silent) blend and bleed into each other but they are vital to the outcome.
How does the re-opened FBI investigation factor into each voting type?
I think it’s worth looking at the original FBI investigation in simple terms. When the FBI investigation was effectively closed by Director Comey’s infamous press conference the Never Hillary voters howled protest and the Democratic segment of the Never Trump voters claimed victory.
But the outcome of the FBI Investigation in July was never going to move the needle for these groups. No matter the outcome, their vote was going to be unchanged.
For the Swing, Conscientious Objector and Silent & Embarrassed voter groups I also think it didn’t move the needle much. Why?
Because Hillary Clinton was Certified as Safe by the FBI.
Comey’s remarks, while damning, ended with this crucial statement:
“We are expressing to Justice our view that no charges are appropriate in this case” – James Comey (FBI Director)
The general impression casual voters walked away with was quite simple. Hillary probably did some inappropriate things and/or used bad judgment but Clinton didn’t do anything truly awful. Otherwise the FBI would have recommended charges. That’s it.
The re-opening of the FBI investigation is an entirely different matter with a differing psychological impact.
- Timing Impact – Announcement came with only 11 days to go
- Casual voters realize this is a significant event
- Broad Media Coverage – coverage shaded BUT not being hidden
- The nation is focused – they will keep watching – this won’t fade away
- Certified as Safe no longer applies – this is the crucial element
That the FBI felt compelled – forced – to re-open an investigation they had closed with just 11 days to The Presidential Election transcends political favoritism and partisan politics for most folks. The general initial reaction I have witnessed from the all-important Swing, Conscientious Objector and Silent & Embarrassed types is twofold:
What the heck did she do?
What the heck did the FBI uncover?
No one knows publicly yet what was found by the FBI but they don’t completely need to. The mindset has shifted. In essence the unspoken answer comes down to this:
“It must be really bad if the FBI was forced to take this drastic step”
And there it is. Suddenly and without warning, Hillary no longer has the seal of approval. The FBI certificate she carried so proudly has been removed and torn up. She is no longer certified and she is no longer safe.
This will ignite even more fervor in both the Never Hillary voters and the Never Trump voters. The Never Hillary voters with cries of “I told you so”. The Never Trump voters with claims of political manipulation. Both groups will vote as they would have.
But it may well shake the other three categories. Unsettling them, shoving them away from complacency and lethargy.
Swing voter – Trump Wins this segment. I think this group will truly swing. For them I think this announcement may seal their decision. They were okay voting for Hillary post the FBI Investigation closure. She was Certified as Safe. Now, not so much. Now Hillary looks tainted, possibly criminal. Why else would the FBI re-open the investigation?
Silent & Embarrassed – Trump wins this segment. If anything their resolve is now stronger than it was. Those who were simply quietly supporting may now make a real effort to go to the voting booth.
Conscientious Objector voter – I think this group is tough to call and will find its membership shifting. Some will decide that now they cannot, in all good conscience, afford to stay on the sidelines. Trump will win these voters. But some will truly throw up their arms and walk away from the election. Wash their hands of it entirely. These folks will find their ranks likely joined by some from other categories. How many are these non-voters? That’s the million dollar question.
My best guess – an educated hunch – is that the FBI will release at least some details on what they uncovered before the election. I am further guessing that that information may even be announced this week. And I am lastly guessing that it’s going to look bad. Really bad.
And here we are. An election whose outcome seemed Certified as Safe, a guaranteed win for Hillary, now finds itself in chaos and upheaval. I think Trump has a real chance but it’s still a long shot. The electoral math is at best tricky.
But he has a chance.
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