Cliff’s Take: Down to the Wire

Is Our Fractured Reality Fixable Post-Election?

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  • Clifford Young President, US, Public Affairs
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Just 18 days until election.  There is much uncertainty still. Yes, the numbers are ugly for Trump.  They have gotten worse, not better, over the last month. 

But we all suffer PTSD from 2016.  Any signal contrary to the polls takes on extra weight in our assessment of the numbers. Take, for instance, the surge in registered Republicans in states like Florida. A leading indicator? We will see.

There was no second debate yesterday but instead two parallel town halls. My key takeaway—you could not have more diametrically opposed cognitive frameworks for organizing people and the world. One of strength and confrontation; the other about consensus and empathy. The voters will pick their poison on November 3rd.

Below is the most relevant polling data of the week.

  1. Biased frames. We are all biased; we need to recognize this. Questions about election legitimacy exists on both sides of the political divide. Remember, prima facie, no side—blue or red—should own the advantage here. Ask yourself this—if your horse loses, are you prepared to accept the results? About half of you will need to face this reality. Good faith election
  2. Is everyone “above average?  Spin trumps reality in today's world. Remember that facts recently became alternative.  But alternative for whom? For you, not me, of course. Look at the data! Beauty – and truth – are in the eye of the beholder. Spotting disinformation
  3. Partisan economics. Since March, weekly unemployment claims have surpassed 700,000 – at the lower end of the spectrum. Unemployment was at 7.9% nationally in September. And our Ipsos consumer confidence tracker has not fully recovered after abruptly falling 14 points in March. Dark economic clouds indeed. But we have yet to experience a complete implosion in consumer confidence. Why? Our economic resilience comes in shades of red and blue. Look at the data.  Republicans are much more confident; Democrats less so.  Consumer confidence


  4. Trending Biden, but… In the swing states, the polls are getting uglier for Trump. He is losing the ground in all six, though it’s statistically still a tossup in Arizona, North Carolina and Florida. Game over, right?  Not so fast. The polls looked good for Hillary Clinton at this point in 2016, too. Biden lead
  5. Looking forward. Will we ever see the pandemic in our rearview mirror? Of course! One day. But right now, Americans see only uncertainty ahead.  We can’t envision a tomorrow without it being colored by today. Post COVID uncertainty

For a synthesis of some of the above, listen to my chat with Morning Briefing’s Tim Farley. As always, be safe and be sane.

For more information, please contact:

Clifford Young
President, U.S.
Public Affairs
+1 202 420-2016

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The author(s)

  • Clifford Young President, US, Public Affairs