Presidential election deja vu

Despite all the sturm and drang and media frenzy, this general election campaign has been predictable, following the same old patterns as most general campaigns–same states, same demographics, same predictable ebb and flow. Fundamental change occurs slowly, over generations, culminating in one stunning landslide–1932, 1980–though even those elections follow fairly predictable patterns after the conventions. The craziness happens in the primaries–1964, 1972, 1976, 2016– but in the post convention months leading to November, everything falls into the old patterns. You can look back at the final weeks of 2012, 2008, 2004, 2000, 1996, 1992, 1988, 1984, 1980 and all the way back to 1960, maybe even 1948, and unless there is a major third party–1968, 1992–the pattern is almost narcotically the same. Indeed, once best selling campaign histories have fallen out of fashion because the races are so identical. It’ll remain this way as long as there is the electoral college. You will never see things blown wide open until we finally dump that archaic machinery and replace it with the direct vote. In the meantime the last month of every presidential election will give veteran campaign watchers a stultifying sensation of deja vu. You already know how it will end, you’ve seen it before. It took an electoral vote tie in 2000 (courtesy Ralph Nader’s ideologically nihilistic campaign) to suddenly jar us out of the familiar and into the strange and scary. Now that was different. Too different.

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