US Elections – Hillary’s Coat-Tails?

hillary_clintonThe best evaluation of US Presidential Election polling says* Hillary Clinton is heading for a very solid win, possibly bigger than that of Barack Obama – that’s Nate Silver’s very credible blog at

Most US voters tend to vote a Party’s ticket on election day – that is, they choose who they’re voting for as President, then follow that Party’s ticket in the House of Representatives, the Senate, State Governor and legislature ballots, and further down the ticket – all elected on the same day.

This tendency to vote for a Party’s ticket is important because it means a strong showing by a Presidential candidate can help their Party achieve control of Federal and State Governments – and, conversely, a weak showing can harm a Party’s chances of power at other levels of Government.

That’s one of the reasons we can see many Republican candidates distancing themselves from Donald Trump right now – they’re judging Trump will do badly on Election Day 8 November, and that if they put distance between themselves and him it might make their job of re-election or election easier.  On the other hand, some Republican down-ballot candidates have a dilemma – they feel they need Trump’s supporters, to get over the line.

This summary from fivethirtyeight suggests the distancing strategy has been working: but on the other hand, the chances of the of the Democratic Party having a majority of the Senate has been increasing rapidly* since 9 October

If Hillary’s support continues to grow as it has in the first weeks of October, the Democratic Party’s strategy – and possibly hers as well – will turn from simply defending her Presidential candidacy, to trying to use the comparative strength of her polling, and the obverse rejection of Trump, to build Democrat prospects of controlling both Houses of their Congress, more Governorships and more state legislatures.

The message nationally will become “Hillary needs a Democrat House/Senate to support her program and get Washington out of the Republicans’ gridlock” or similar.  Less clunky and more smooth than my formulation, I’m sure.  On the ground in the campaign, we’re starting to see that message making its way into the media.

If you start to observe that kind of message coming from the Democratic Party and its candidates with any consistency, you can be sure they’ve become very confident Hillary will win comfortably, and they want to maximise the coat-tail effect.


* As at the date of writing, October 16, 2016, anyway.


(Half of the Ethical Consulting Services team – that would be Mike – is embedded in the US Presidential campaign, until Election Day 8 November.)




About Mike Smith

Partner in Ethical Consulting Services:; Ethical strategies and programs which get you where you need to go ... * Exceptional government & stakeholder relations, * Thriving governance systems, * Specialised project facilitation, * Inbound investment assistance, * Successful marketing, communications and PR campaigns ... and customised training in each of these areas.

Posted on October 17, 2016, in campaigning, Election, Political tactics, Politics, Strategy, Tactics and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Stephen Robertson

    I didn’t appreciate, until now, that elections for state governors etc are held on the same day as the presidential, congressional and senate elections. So what do the Dems and GOP how to vote cards look like to encourage votes to stick with the ticket?

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