If, like me, you think a Trump presidency would be a catastrophe, then by all means, enjoy Hillary’s lead in the polls and predictive models. But don’t assume she’ll win without your help. Here are five reasons you still need to vote for her on November 8.
1. Remember Brexit?
Many prognosticators thought Britain would vote to stay in the European Union; several polls had the “Remain” camp up in the final hours before the referendum. But the “Leave” side won by more than a million votes. Afterwards, some voters regretted lodging a “protest vote” they thought wouldn’t affect the outcome.
But unless a ballot’s involved, polls aren’t votes—they’re just educated guesses based on small sample sizes. And guesses, no matter how sophisticated, can be wrong.
2. Remember 2000?
Al Gore vs. George W. Bush famously came down to Florida, which Gore lost by a few hundred votes (give or take, depending on which recount you believe). Third-party candidates garnered 138,067 votes in Florida, including 97,488 for Ralph Nader, the Green Party’s nominee. If a small percentage of those third-party voters had chosen differently, or a relative handful of additional Democrats had turned out to vote, Bush might not have been our 43rd president.
So while your vote *probably* won’t matter on its own, it could. It could matter a lot.
3. We’re Being Hacked
In any other year, this would sound like a conspiracy theory, but the U.S. government recently accused Russia of digitally disrupting the 2016 election. Even if you don’t think the Kremlin’s involved, WikiLeaks is openly trying to embarrass the Clinton campaign—but not Trump’s—with stolen (and unverified) emails on an almost daily basis. And more than 20 states have reported probes of their voter registration systems.
The upshot? It’s not farfetched to imagine votes being fiddled with. Let’s give Hillary a buffer.
4. Votes Will Be Suppressed
Trump is calling for his mostly white supporters to monitor voting in “other communities, because we don't want this election stolen from us.” Some of those supporters have pledged to intimidate minority voters by “going… right up behind them” and “make them a little bit nervous.” Other Trump backers recently flashed their guns outside a Democratic campaign office in Virginia. Less visibly, Republicans have enhanced voter-ID laws that disproportionately impact non-white voters.
In other words, some people who want to vote for Democrats this year will probably be prevented from doing so. For their sake, make sure your vote counts.
5. Send a Message
Finally, consider what this election means historically. If Hillary wins in a squeaker, Trump can flip the hacking claims above and insist the election was “rigged” with the theft of a few votes, damaging the perceived integrity of the electoral process for years to come. But if Hillary blows him out of the water, she shuts down his (reckless, unfounded) excuses.
Even more importantly, a clear victory will double as a rebuke to the anachronistic racism, sexism, and authoritarianism suffusing Trump’s persona and campaign. When historians look back on this election, they’ll note that—52 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act—a certain number of people still endorsed his brand of hate-filled demagoguery, and a (hopefully) larger number of people rejected it.
Or to put it more directly: now is your chance to record your place on the right side of history.
Make your mark.