Final thoughts before the November 8 election

This story appears in the Election 2016 feature series. View the full series.

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The debates are over. The awkward Al Smith dinner has past. Polls show Hillary Clinton with a substantial lead in both the popular vote and the Electoral College. Both candidates crisscross a few battleground states, and everybody agrees that they can't wait until this election is history.

Donald Trump tells us he is winning. Pollsters and pundits tell us it could be a wave election for Clinton and the Democrats. Some are even saying the House of Representatives could be in play. Yet the national polls range from a 3- to 14-point lead for Clinton. That is a wide range and difficult to analyze. The best bet is probably to follow an average of polls strategy. The CNN poll of polls has the average at 6 percent right now, which is probably about right.

Yet, there are so many elements that remain undetermined in this race. Speculations differ on what the turnout might be. Some believe voters will be disgusted and stay home. Others feel the nature of this election is going to drive voters of both parties to the polls. I tend to believe the turnout will be strong, as voters want to make a statement about where they stand after this controversy fraught election.

Some also believe there is a hidden pro-Trump vote similar to what happened in Britain with the Brexit vote. Actually the Brexit polls were only 1 or 2 points off. Trump supporters seem to be quite vocal in their support of him, so I am not inclined to see a significant hidden Trump vote.

What about a late October or even November surprise? Wikileaks continues to suggest further revelations about Hillary Clinton campaign emails are likely. Yet they have already released several batches, and frankly there is not much there. There are some embarrassing emails showing disagreements among Clinton staff members, but you would likely find this as part of any political campaign.

Certainly anything can happen that could conceivably change this campaign dramatically even in these last days. The latest significant issue that has arisen is the dramatic rise in premiums for the Affordable Care Act. This is troubling and gives Trump new ammunition to hammer away at, but it is unlikely to change the overall trajectory of the campaign. Actually, it could be an argument for changing the health care program rather than repealing it.

It is also worth noting that early voting has already begun in earnest. At this point the early voting seems to be favoring Democrats. This fact could help blunt any change in the trajectory of this race even if it were to occur.

So, all things considered I am ready to go with my final predictions, but I would encourage you not to bet the farm on them. Hillary Clinton will come in with about 330 electoral votes and a 5-point popular vote total lead. The Democrats will win four or five Senate seats to retake the Senate majority and will gain about 10 to 15 seats in the House.

Enormous questions remain after this election regardless of who wins. Assuming a Clinton victory, will Trump concede? How much trouble will he make and for how long? Will Republicans refuse to work with President Clinton? Will House Republicans be interested in nothing but continued investigations into the Clintons? Will the liberal wing of the Democratic Party push Clinton beyond what she can deliver?

There will be much to talk about concerning the election of 2016 for a long time to come.

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