Comment: America is not as tribal as Northern Ireland, but might head that way

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a rally at the Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, Pa., Monday, Nov. 7, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a rally at the Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, Pa., Monday, Nov. 7, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
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To get a sense of how Hillary Clinton is now firm favourite, consider this: I write this late on Monday UK time, early pm American time watching Fox News in a hotel before a Donald Trump rally in North Carolina.

Fox is famously partisan in favour of Republicans, but it is not trying to distort polling data. It has just produced its eve of election final poll which shows Hillary Clinton 4% ahead, in line with other late polls.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally Monday, Nov. 7, 2016, in Scranton, Pa. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally Monday, Nov. 7, 2016, in Scranton, Pa. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Fox also has a map of the states that has Hillary clearly above the 270 electoral college votes she needs to win. It has her on 283, and if she wins some of the states it calls a toss up her tally will be 300+.

On Sunday I was at an Obama rally in Florida, and a number cruncher who works in the White House told me they expect Hillary to shade Florida, which would be curtains for Trump.

What he then said tells you much about this extraordinary election: I asked how whites in Florida were dividing? They were 60% to 62% pro Trump.

That is not enough. The state is 36% black or Hispanic and Hillary is so far ahead among them that it counters his white lead.

That is the story of this election. Trump is so despised by certain groups that he needs almost impossibly high support from the groups that do like him.

According to Fox, he is around 8% ahead among men but 9% behind among women.

Among whites overall, Fox say he is 17% ahead. But the margin needs to be higher as the white vote shrinks.

The Republican Party is gradually becoming the white peoples’ party. Its supporters were always overwhelmingly white, but the country was overwhelmingly white (almost 90% 40 years ago).

Now the party is set for an ever-growing proportion of a shrinking demographic.

It could become similar to how a single unionist party might look in Northern Ireland – monocultural but sustained by the fears of the declining group.

There will always be highly educated whites who vote Democrat in the same way that the Alliance Party got many such Protestants.

America is nowhere near as tribal as Northern Ireland, but it might head that way.

Whatever happens tomorrow, white people will have emphatically backed a candidate as unpredictable and unqualified as Trump, such is their fear of cultural decline.

I still do not feel confident that Hillary Clinton will win. Polls on both sides of the Atlantic have struggled to capture intentions accurately in recent years.

The anti-Hillary ads on TV here are brutal, and ram home a depiction of a corrupt and malevolent woman.

But the Democrats are airing their own vicious anti-Trump ads, even on Fox, no doubt trying to win over wavering Republicans.

A final thought: if one candidate wins clearly, convention says that that increases the chance of them taking the House of Representatives and Senate.

But it would not surprise me if a clear winner then loses both chambers. There must be many voters who plan reluctantly to vote for one of them but plan to constrain their candidate by voting for the other party at congressional level.

Americans have a strong sense of the checks and balances that were built into their constitution.