These last 26 days of the 2016 Presidential campaign might be the ugliest, most embarrassing, and least informative in our lifetime.
The entire campaign has been flushed down to: Did Donald Trump manhandle (pun intended) more women in more disgusting ways than Bill Clinton?
Here's my prediction: It won't matter. Other than making us change the channel on the TV in the kitchen from a cable news program to something on the History Channel about World War II, I don't believe any significant number of people will change their vote from Clinton to Trump, or the other way around.
What it likely will do is to cause people who are just sick and tired of the whole mess to turn off their TVs altogether and read cozy mysteries on their Kindles until it's all over.
As I write this on Thursday morning, the RealClearPolitics average of national polls has Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump by 6.2 percentage points: 48.0 - 41.8.
That doesn't seem like an insurmountable lead, but it is a really, really, big one. First of all, Trump is not leading in a single poll that has been in the field since October 3. That's the past 10 days.
Second, that represents Clinton's largest lead in the RCP average since August 8 when she led by 7.2 percentage points 47.3 - 40.1 in the aftermath of the two conventions and Trump having devoted nearly the entire infamous week beating up on the Kahn family. It generally takes four or five days for events to reflect themselves in the polling numbers.
Last night, ABC News and others reported that the Trump campaign has decided Virginia is gone and is shifting all resources to places where they still think they have a chance: Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Ohio. As one campaign operative put it, Trump is essentially running a four-state campaign.
State polls - at least publicly available state polls - are not taken nearly as often as national polls, but let's look at how it looks in those last four battleground states in polls taken during October:
Florida - Clinton +2.5
Pennsylvania - Clinton +8.7
North Carolina - Clinton +1
Ohio - Clinton +2.3
As I told you more than a month ago, if Virginia is not in play (which, as of today it is not) I would skip the vote for President because I don't want to vote for Clinton and I won't vote for Trump.
Whether Clinton wins by 15,000 votes or 150,000 votes (Obama won in 2012 by a margin of 149,300 votes) she still only gets Virginia's 13 Electoral Votes.
I might change my mind when I actually head to the Board of Elections office next week to vote early, but I don't think so.
In Virginia we vote for local and state offices in odd-numbered years and we don't have a U.S. Senate race this year, so the only other candidate race on my ballot in Alexandria, Virginia will be Member of Congress for the 8th District and I'll vote for the Republican, Charles Hernick.
Before you hit the SEND key, I wear proudly my title as an Establishment Republican. I'm pretty sure I've been a Republican for a lot longer than Donald Trump.
As, as for being Inside the Beltway ? I can see the Beltway from my back door and I'm certain I am inside of it.
If you are a Trump supporter, then I urge you to go vote and loudly proclaim your fealty. In this we are not enemies, but only political opponents.
Is it possible I'm wrong about the outcome? Certainly.
I didn't think Hillary would run at all. Nor Donald. And when Trump did run, I was sure he would never be the nominee.
That's why they actually hold the elections.