October was insane, even by our debased presidential election standards. There was the Billy Bush tape and the rash of credible sexual assault and harassment allegations against Donald Trump that followed; Trump’s catastrophic debate performances; James Comey’s eleventh hour intervention; Mike Pence lying his teeth off in a vice presidential debate; the will-they-won’t-they drama of Paul Ryan and Trump; the rise and fall of Ken Bone. And yet as we turn the final corner of this election, we’re talking about turnout.
In that respect, the last four days have felt fairly conventional. For one thing, there’s just been very little news after the mostly pretty dubious speculation about Trump’s Russian connection on Monday, the final day of October, the month of surprises. The last four days have largely been devoted to turnout, which is where election coverage tends to end up, given that turning out voters is the most important thing about elections these days. The Clinton campaign is reportedly confident about Hispanic turnout, but is pulling out every stop to get black voters to the polls. While her campaign spent most of the summer and early fall trying to run up the score with disaffected Republicans, those efforts seem to have largely come to nothing, though Clinton should become the first Democrat to win college-educated white voters in over half a century. Trump, meanwhile, is focusing on turning out his own base of old white people. That’s the news today, more or less.
This is madness, in no small part because it seems to have been brought on by James Comey’s decision to break with tradition and inform Congress of an investigation into Clinton’s emails that very well may result in bupkis. With four days to go until the election, coverage should be dominated by talk of the historic and potentially America-altering decision voters will make on Tuesday between a conventional Democrat with a penchant for own goals and a demagogue whose racism and sexism has been documented repeatedly over the last year and a half, and who has been credibly accused of sexual assault multiple times over the past month. Instead, we’re talking about turnout.