In the 1992 election, the one thing that jumped out to me was the enthusiasm for Clinton at public events. He had big raucous crowds, while Bush had smaller, older crowds. The press had all the same horse race stories we see today, but it felt like Clinton had all the enthusiasm on his side, despite the tight polls. One of the things I recall is not seeing any Bush bumper stickers, but lots of Clinton stickers. That always stuck in my head as a useful metric when trying to gauge the intentions of the voters.
This ad hoc measure held up in the following election, as Dole was just a sacrificial candidate the GOP put up just so they could have someone on the ticket. In 2000, this metric really did not hold up as I saw many more Bush signs and his crowds were much bigger than Gore’s crowd, but it was a razor thin result. That said, it held up very well in 2004 as Bush clearly had the more enthusiastic voters. I recall seeing a clip of him at an event that looked like a rock concert. I knew he was going to win handily.
Like any seat of the pants observation, it is prone to your own bias. I think in 2000 I was probably fooled a little by where I lived at the time. I was in Virginia, which was strong Bush country. Even so, we all have our biases and that means we tend to see that which confirms our magical thinking. I think about that when I see the video from Trump events. The guy is playing to massive crowds that we last saw when Obama ran in 2008. Even the reporters covering these things admit they are yuge.
On the other hand, Clinton is playing high school gymnasiums where a few hundred people, at most, are herded into to hear her cackle at them. These are rare, as she spends most of her time at private fundraisers or sleeping. That’s the other thing that is so odd about this election. She takes weeks off, not having any public events. Right now, she has been under wraps for five days. Criminal Genius David Axelrod is now suggesting she skip the next debate entirely. Frankly, would that be shocking if she did skip it?
The disconnect in this election between what we are being told and what we are seeing is dizzying. The polls all show a tie or a slight Clinton lead. If that is true, it means Trump voters are willing to drop what they are doing, stand in line for hours, just to see their guy give a speech. Clinton voters are not all the interested in seeing her or even hearing her take questions. This is entirely possible. Unhappy people are more likely to go out and protest, while those satisfied with the status quo stay home. But, in an election?
The trouble is I can think of no example where this has been the case. Even poor old Bob Dole was out giving speeches in front of decent sized crowds. If I recall, he did a barnstorming thing at one point where he would show up at a few places every day and give a speech. People showed up and cheered. Clinton has become invisible to her own voters. I see her commercials, but she has not held a single public even within a three hour drive of me. Trump has done a few events and my state is a long shot for him.
To make this election even more bizarre is the way the press has ignored the biggest story in political history since Watergate. The Wikileaks stuff is explosive. It is what political reporters used to pray for, back when we had political reporters. The stuff in those e-mails is the sort of stuff that used to end careers and bring down governments. Despite the caterwauling from the stray moonbat, the media has ignored the story, preferring to spend all their time talking about the Trump bimbo hoax.
One of the things that was clear about the ’92 campaign is the Left studied Reagan. They were convinced Reagan won because of his ability to use modern media to reach voters. As a result, they had ready for 1992, Hollywood film makers to assist the Democratic nominee. The Clinton campaign was the first to use Hollywood to stage their events and produce their campaign videos. They even brought in costume people to help them select clothes for their events. Leni Riefenstahl would have been proud.
The result has been increasingly synthetic candidates on the Democratic side. Al Gore was so scripted people wondered if he was a robot. He was not allowed to pick out his own ties, he was so tightly controlled. Kerry’s campaign was actually packaged for him by the same people that created the Mark Warner campaign in Virginia. For instance, they recycled the hunting skits that Warner used to appease gun owners. Kerry’s job was to learn his lines and convincingly wear the costumes.
By the time Obama came along, the Democrats were fully prepared to run an actor hired to play the role designed by the party. Obama may as well be an actor, for as much as anyone knows about the guy. Even after all these years, his back story remains a mystery to most Americans. He’s simply the young version of Morgan Freeman playing President in Deep Impact. Staff write his speeches, prepare him for the fake interviews they stage for the public and otherwise direct every aspect of his public performance.
Now here we are with Hillary Clinton running as the virtual candidate. For all anyone knows, she could be a head in a jar and those old fat women we see waddling around from time to time are just body doubles. While Trump is running a real campaign in front of actual humans, Hillary is hidden away somewhere, a virtual presence on campaign videos, but otherwise detached from the physical world. The media plays along, focusing all of its attention on the weird flesh and blood guy talking to humans. This ad from 2008 is turning out to be disturbingly prescient.