In this campaign so far, the settled narrative is: (1) The American public is full of rage at established figures; and (2) Hillary Clinton is in trouble. Initially, the narrative was that the public was fed up with the Bush and Clinton dynasties, but that story had to be modified once it turned out that younger, fresher establishment faces in the Republican Party were equally hapless.
But what if none of this is true?
If Americans in general are full of rage, why does President Obama have a better approval rating than Ronald Reagan did at this stage in his presidency? This is actually amazing given the “negative partisanship” that ensures that Republicans will never express approval for a Democratic president.
As for Mrs. Clinton, if you read the papers or, worse yet, watch cable, you’ve seen her doomed at least three times: last fall before the Benghazi hearings, after the New Hampshire primary, and during Bernie Sanders’s string of caucus victories before the New York primary. Well, it’s strange to say, but she’s about to win the Democratic presidential nomination - and if the demographics-based projections are right, which they have consistently been, she’ll end up with about four times the delegate lead that Mr. Obama had in 2008 and with a popular vote lead of four million (as compared with the 2008 tie).
So how about a “counterintuitive” take - we’re supposed to love those, right? (I know, but not if the argument favors a Clinton.) Maybe a majority of Americans, while not full of joy about the aftermath of the financial crisis, think pretty well of Mr. Obama, and are reasonably willing to support a continuation of his policies. Maybe the Trump phenomenon is about the rage of angry white Republican men, a rage not shared by voters at large. Maybe Mrs. Clinton is a much better candidate than she is given credit for - her main problem is not a lack of “authenticity” or whatever, but the unremitting hostility of the media, which has given her far more negative coverage than they’ve given anyone else.
There’s still the question of what Mr. Sanders and his die-hard supporters may do. But assuming that they don’t decide to go full Nader, this year is likely to be a big victory for the continuation of Mr. Obama’s policies, in the person of Mrs. Clinton. Of course, I look forward to a day or two after the election, when we begin reading stories about how the Clinton administration is in free fall.