Bruce Stokes, director of global economic attitudes at the reputed Pew Research Centre, Washington, DC, delves into the electorate's mind and presents a voter-side view of the presidential elections. Excerpts from an interview:
With barely a few weeks left, can the voter be still influenced? And what will their votes be saying?
We know both candidates have record high disapproval of voters and that a significant portion of the voters' support is not a vote for them, but a vote against the other candidate. That said, our most recent survey found that 63 per cent of the registered voters believe Clinton will win. Only 34 per cent believe Trump will win. But this masks a huge partisan difference in perspective. While 69 per cent of Trump supporters believe he will win, 92 per cent of Clinton supporters believe she will win.
So what can decide the fate of the candidates now?
There is no way to anticipate an October surprise. After the San Bernardino terrorist incident [on December 2, 2015], terrorism became the number one issue for Americans for about a month. So, a terrorist incident in October might influence public views. More important is the turnout. In 2012, 64 per cent of the whites who were eligible to vote actually voted and 66 per cent of the African-Americans voted. But only 48 per cent of the Hispanics voted. And 47 per cent of Asians. Only 46 per cent of the millennials voted. The question to ask is, will the African-Americans vote at 66 per cent when that was their record high turnout? Will the Hispanics vote at a higher rate than 48 per cent when one of the candidates has promised to deport 11 million of them? Our surveys of the Hispanics show that while immigration is the number one issue for first generation Hispanics, it is not so for second and third generation Hispanics. Gallup also did a report that in September 2008, 74 per cent of the millennials said they intended to vote, but only 47 per cent actually did. In September 2016, only 47 per cent of the millennials said they intended to vote.
How will these elections be remembered?
The degree of partisan disagreement and the divide between the Republicans and the Democrats that seems to be little affected by the developments in the campaign or by what the candidates say or by the revelations about their past.
What can the candidates do at this point to improve their chances?
Work on turnout.