With only a few short days left in this presidential election cycle, it’s always interesting to look at the political axioms, however odd or strange, to see how each candidate is doing.
While these axioms are not by any means determinants of the election, some have political insight — while others are absurdly fun to consider.
1. High Prices at the Pump Hurt the Incumbent Party
This is more of a new political axiom, for decades the prices of oil and gasoline held steady or at least paced with overall inflation.
The gasoline spikes of the 1990s, followed by the overwhelming gasoline prices in 2008 definitely set up a pattern — the incumbent party is blamed when voters’ wallets hurt at the pump.
Gas prices have been lower throughout 2016, with the national price hovering at $2.21 per gallon.
Many realities in geopolitics have supported this, with many countries still in a ‘pump at any price’ mentality to boost cash reserves.
While the days of decades long $1.00 per gallon gasoline are far gone, the current price is definitely not a serious cause for anyone to blame the incumbents for expensive gas.
2. Incumbents Can’t Win Without a 60% Approval Rating of the POTUS
President Obama’s approval rating has held steady in the mid-50’s for months, but can’t seem to get past the 60% hurdle.
Sure, Congress still has an abysmal approval rating, not breaking 20 percent for three-straight years — but will this affect what has otherwise been a ‘perfect’ axiom of presidential predictors?
Disaffection with Congress may flip at least one chamber, but who knows what will happen with President Obama’s split approval.
3. Unpopular Wars and Lack of Strategy Damages Incumbents
Since the Korean War, unpopular and ‘unwinnable’ wars have damaged incumbents.
President Eisenhower’s single greatest statement of his 1952 campaign was that he would ‘go to Korea,’ and see first hand what could be done to break the stalemate.
Americans found comfort in that, and today is really no different — though we don’t have a great military leader running for office.
We are a nation that is becoming war weary, almost to the point of seeing our military actions in the Middle East as status quo.
Like 1952, we need answers to break the stalemate.
4. Challenging Party Surges in the Last Few Weeks of the Race
All too many outlets were caught ‘looking dumb’ with their polls having Mitt Romney ahead by 2 points during the last few weeks of the 2012 presidential cycle.
It just seems to happen this way, with no good reason. However, as with anything, the polls are just tools, not precise measurements of America.
Strangely, it seems, that some of the most accurate polling in post mortem analysis tends to be August and September’s polls, with October polls susceptible to this strange phenomenon.
5. The Taller Candidate Wins Most of the Time
In fairness, the previous elections have all been between men, but physical stature seems to play a role.
With Donald Trump towering at 6’3″ this may in all reality be the greatest spread between any two candidates — with Hillary Clinton coming in at 5′ 5.”
Clinton has exploited this height disadvantage a few times, especially during the debates when she placed herself between the camera and Donald Trump — giving the appearance of him ‘lurching’ even when he was standing at his own podium.
Idealized body form has been an important part of a leader’s qualities since the most ancient of times. In 21st century America, we still haven’t lost this ‘need’ to connect with our leaders on the physical level.
6. The World Series is Indicating a Hard Fought Race for Both Sides
One of the goofier political axioms is the World Series outcome — where the location of each team on the red/blue map has ‘predictive’ powers.
This year, the Chicago Cubs in deep blue territory face off with the Cleveland Indians — from toss-up Ohio.
With the Cubs now only one game away from elimination, this axiom plays into a lot of America’s worst fears — that the election is anyone’s game.
While these axioms are fun to consider, there’s one that should shock and even appall Americans — over 40 percent of eligible voters choose to not cast a ballot in the presidential elections.
Greater voter participation would fundamentally alter the entire political landscape in America, but we simply don’t use the simplest of American rights to change our political future.
It’s not just this generation. The highest voter turnout ever was in 1860 with 80.1 percent of the eligible voters casting ballots. But otherwise, voter engagement hovers in the mid-50’s for presidential races, high 40’s for mid-terms.
We need a new axiom in America — that we have a population that cares enough about our future to get to the polls each and every election.
This would set into motion a completely unpredictable new world of politics — and who would really know what the end result would be?
But it would be the people’s choice, not the parties, political PACs, billionaire political donors, or ‘party faithful.’
We need an engaged America, one that tackles the issues of the day, not the party-line ramblings and campaign messages.
One certainty is clear: if Americans started voting in droves, we’d have scared politicians, ones who actually tried to figure out what the voters wanted.
And how could that be a bad thing?