We Americans have a long tradition of holding election-night parties, gathering friends around the TV to cheer or bemoan the results — but this year I propose a break with tradition. While this is kind of last-minute, it’s entirely feasible. Hold your party tonight instead. After all, we’ve got something big to celebrate: The whole depressing, exhausting, distasteful, miserable business of election 2016 is over. Tonight the campaigning stops.
How have we hated it? Let us count the ways.
-We hated the candidates. Donald Trump is the most disliked and least trusted nominee ever measured; Hillary Clinton ranks second but still outpolls any previous nominee. In some polling, when voters were offered a choice of Trump, Clinton, or neither, “neither” won – the first time that has happened or even come close to happening in the 32 years pollsters have posed that choice. How many people have you encountered who abashedly defend their choice as “the lesser of two evils?” Polling by the Pew Research Center found that large proportions of voters on both sides said they were voting for their favored choice mostly because they wanted to vote against the other one. America walks into the voting booth this year holding its collective nose.
-We hated their ads. This was apparently the most negative presidential campaign ever, which is saying something. Of course you could blame the candidates; both offered so much to attack. Nonetheless, Americans claim to hate negative campaigning and advertising, and this cycle we were immersed in it. Both candidates closed with parallel negative ads: “Hillary Clinton: unfit to serve,” said Trump’s, while Clinton’s called Trump “unfit to be president.”
-We still hate Congress. If we hoped that averting our gaze from the presidential slimefest would raise our spirits, we were disappointed. Gallup’s latest pre-election survey shows that America despises Congress, and no, it wasn’t ever thus. Through the 1970s and 1980s we gave Congress approval ratings around 40% or in the high 30s; through the 90s and early 2000s its ratings climbed to around 50%. Now it’s 18% and hasn’t been above 20% in years. Separate polling has found that Congress is less popular than cockroaches and colonoscopies.
-We just hated the whole stupid, loathsome thing. When CBS News and the New York Times recently asked voters if they were “excited” or “disgusted” by the campaign, 82% chose disgusted. You’ve probably encountered families divided bitterly by this race; ABC News interviewed one in which Dad said of his adult daughter, “I’ve made her cry.”
All of which raises the obvious question of why we put ourselves through this torment. The answer is that we haven’t always hated election campaigns; in fact it appears we’ve never hated one like we did this time. We used to love it all. Politics was America’s favorite spectator sport, with an option to participate. But this year something changed, and America can’t wait for it all to end.
Which happens tonight. So buy some fizzy beverages and invite friends to your house for a big “It’s Over” party. You won’t have to explain further. And I bet they’ll show up.
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What We’re Reading Today
VW investigation reaches the top
German prosecutors’ investigation of the emissions cheating scandal includes Volkswagen chairman Hans Dieter Pötsch, who was CFO when the scandal became public. The inquiry has already entangled former CEO Martin Winterkorn and VW brand chief Herbert Diess. VW reiterated its support for Pötsch. CBS News
Competitors offer to support AT&T-Time Warner deal — for a price
As regulators review the proposed $85-billion merger, competitors will seek concessions from Randall Stephenson‘s AT&T and Jeff Bewkes‘s Time Warner in return for supporting the deal. Public support from rivals can sway regulators as they decide whether to approve the merger. Support from Reed Hastings‘s Netflix will be critical; the company didn’t support the proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger, which was blocked. Bloomberg
China bars two Hong Kong lawmakers
Beijing ruled that serving in the Hong Kong legislature requires an oath of allegiance to the Chinese government. Two pro-independence lawmakers, Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai-ching, were elected but say they will refuse the pledge; they will not be seated. It’s a rare imposition of direct Chinese authority in the semi-autonomous region. BBC
Musk says automation will eliminate so many jobs…
…that governments will have to offer a universal basic income. Responding to questions about automation, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said he’s “not sure what else one would do” as automation rapidly displaces more workers. He said he believes all that free time would unleash a wave of creativity. Fortune
Building A Better Leader
About 26% of people have taken a gap year
Often it’s right after college. Only 14% of those who took time off did so to travel the world. Fast Company
Wall Street bonuses are expected to fall 5% to 10%
It would be the second consecutive year of lower bonuses, due in part to fewer mergers and acquisitions, despite the recent rash of announcements. Fortune
CEOs blame the election for bad results
Over 80 companies have mentioned the election on earnings calls since the beginning of October. Many companies, including Dunkin’ Brands and Whirlpool, claim it’s weakening consumer spending or hurting results. Reuters
Email Answers Take Two
No new action in Clinton email inquiry
FBI Director James Comey told Congress the emails discovered during an investigation into Anthony Weiner did not provide additional insight into the scandal. He said he saw no reason to change his previous decision not to recommend charges against Hillary Clinton. NYT
Comey’s response still sparking fury
Lawmakers and Clinton supporters remain angry over Comey‘s revelation of the emails just 11 days before the election without knowing what the FBI would find. His new statement may influence those still deciding for whom to vote but obviously can’t affect the millions of ballots already cast in early voting. TIME
Donald Trump hasn’t changed his mind
Trump said he doubted the FBI could have reviewed all the emails in eight days. “Hillary Clinton is guilty,” he said. “She knows it, the FBI knows it, the people know.” Fortune
Up or Out
Former U.S. attorney general Janet Reno has died at 78 from complications of Parkinson’s disease. NYT
Fortune Reads and Videos
Staffers have taken control of @realDonaldTrump
Donald Trump no longer has access to his Twitter account as his staff tries to control messaging in the campaign’s final days. Fortune
Bookmakers put the odds of a Hillary Clinton victory…
…above 80%. Wagering is at a record high for an election, in part because many people are betting on Trump. Fortune
Steve Ballmer says his decision to move Microsoft into smartphones…
…caused a rift between him and Bill Gates. “There was a fundamental disagreement about how important it was to be in the hardware business,” says Ballmer. Fortune
Quote of the Day
“Based on our review, we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July.” — FBI Director James Comey, writing to Congress regarding the Hillary Clinton email investigation. CNN