Trump And The World

Who Will Win The White House, The Four Things To Know

In a normal election season, the signs would seem to point toward a Hillary Clinton victory. This is not normal.

"Lady Guy," a Hillary Clinton Supporter and a Donald Trump supporter in Florida
"Lady Guy," a Hillary Clinton Supporter and a Donald Trump supporter in Florida
Chris Cillizza

WASHINGTON â€" There are eight days left before Americans will choose whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will be the 45th president of the United States. And, although October â€" and its surprises â€" have become cliche in politics at this point, it's hard to remember a final month of a presidential campaign that has contained so many twists and turns.

So, where, exactly, are we? Here's what (I think) we know.

1. The electoral map (still) favors Clinton (by a lot)

Trump is making campaign stops in New Mexico on Sunday and Michigan on Monday. Those last-minute visits may lead you to believe that he is expanding the map into Democratic strongholds. But there's very little evidence that either state is all that competitive. Clinton holds a seven-point edge in Michigan, according to the Real Clear Politics polling average; she is up 8.5 points in New Mexico, according to Real Clear.

The underlying truth of this contest remains the same despite the major developments for both candidates over the past month: Clinton has a clear edge in terms of the electoral college. In addition to the fact that 18 states plus D.C. â€" totaling 242 electoral votes - have gone for the Democratic nominee in every presidential election since 1992, Clinton is now leading in lots of places - Colorado, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Virginia â€" that have been swing states for the past few elections.

And Clinton is competitive in places such as Alaska, Arizona, Georgia and Utah that haven't gone Republican in decades.

2. Organization still favors Clinton (by a lot)

Trump has said, time and time again in this campaign, that he thinks things such as data and organization are overrated, and that he prefers big crowds as the key to his success.

The problem for Trump is that early voting, which is heavily dependent on organization, is becoming more and more common. More than 21 million votes have been cast early in this election, according to calculations made by the U.S. Elections Project. In Florida alone, more than 3.5 million votes have been cast; 36 percent of likely voters say they have already voted in the state and they favor Clinton by 17 points, according to NBC political director Mark Murray.

And Florida is far from an isolated example. At the end of August, Democrats had 4,200 staffers compared to fewer than 900 for Republicans, according to calculations made by NBC.

3. People don't like either candidate

It's important to never forget that these are the two least popular presidential nominees in history. In a Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted earlier this month, 42 percent of registered voters had a favorable opinion of Clinton compared to 56 percent who had an unfavorable one. Trump's numbers were even worse, with 37 percent favorable and 62 percent unfavorable.

That level of unpopularity makes it difficult to predict what undecided voters - and, yes, there are still are some not-insignificant number of people who haven't made up their minds yet - will do as they are faced with choosing between two unsavory options.

Trump's unfavorable numbers are - and have been - worse than Clinton's. But do voters simply choose her as a "least worst" option or is their calculation more complicated?

4. Turnout matters

Yes, this is the most obvious point ever - right up there with "the only poll that matters is the one on Election Day." But, the X factor in all of the polling â€" both in swing states and nationally â€" is whether Trump can make good (or come even close to making good) on his pledge to reshape the electorate.

In 2012, about 125 million people voted â€" 65 million for President Obama, 60 million for Mitt Romney. That electorate was 72 percent white, 13 percent black, 10 percent Hispanic and 3 percent Asian. Women made up 53 percent of the electorate. Thirty eight percent were self-identifying Democrats, 32 percent were Republicans and 28 percent were independents.

Even slight changes in that composition - what if the electorate stays as white as it was in 2012 rather than dipping into the high 60s, as most projections assume? - can alter outcomes in key swing states.

And because of Trump's completely unorthodox campaign, predicting turnout is even more difficult than normal.

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Chinese Students Now Required To Learn To Think Like Xi Jinping

"Xi Jinping Thought" ideas on socialism have been spreading across the country since 2017. But now, Beijing is going one step further by making them part of the curriculum, from the elementary level all the way up to university.

Children from Congtai Elementary School, Handan City, Hebei Province

Maximilian Kalkhof

BEIJING — It's important to strengthen the "determination to listen to and follow the party." Also, teaching materials should "cultivate patriotic feelings." So say the new guidelines issued by the Chinese Ministry of Education.

The goal is to help Chinese students develop more "Marxist beliefs," and for that, the government wants its national curriculum to include "Xi Jinping Thought," the ideas, namely, of China's current leader.

Xi Jinping has been the head of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for almost 10 years. In 2017, at a party convention, he presented a doctrine in the most riveting of party prose: "Xi Jinping's ideas of socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new age."

Behind this word jam is a plan to consolidate the power of the nation, the party and Xi himself. In other words, to make China great again!

Communist curriculum replaces global subjects

This doctrine has sent shockwaves through China since 2017. It's been echoed in newspapers, on TV, and screamed from posters and banners hung in many cities. But now, the People's Republic is going one step further: It's bringing "Xi Jinping Thought" into the schools.

Starting in September, the country's 300 million students have had to study the doctrine, from elementary school into university. And in some cities, even that doesn't seem to be enough. Shanghai announced that its students from third to fifth grade would only take final exams in mathematics and Chinese, de facto deleting English as an examination subject. Beijing, in the meantime, announced that it would ban the use of unauthorized foreign textbooks in elementary and middle schools.

But how does a country that enchants its youth with socialist ideology and personality cults rise to become a world power? Isn't giving up English as a global language the quickest way into isolation?

The educational reform comes at a time when Beijing is brutally disciplining many areas of public life, from tech giants to the entertainment industry. It has made it difficult for Chinese technology companies to go public abroad, and some media have reported that a blanket ban on IPOs in the United States is on the cards in the next few years.

photo of books about Xi-Jinping on a shelf at the 2021 Hong Kong Book Fair

Books about Xi-Jinping at the 2021 Hong Kong Book Fair

Alex Chan Tsz Yuk/SOPA Images/ZUMA

— Photo:

Targeting pop culture

The regime is also taking massive action against the entertainment industry. Popstar Kris Wu was arrested on charges of rape. Movies and TV series starring actor Zhao Wei have started to disappear from Chinese streaming platforms. The reason is unclear.

What the developments do show is that China is attempting to decouple from the West with increasing insistence. Beijing wants to protect its youth from Western excesses, from celebrity worship, super wealth and moral decline.

A nationalist blogger recently called for a "profound change in the economy, finance, culture and politics," a "revolution" and a "return from the capitalists to the masses." Party media shared the text on their websites. It appears the analysis caused more than a few nods in the party headquarters.

Dictatorships are always afraid of pluralism.

Caspar Welbergen, managing director of the Education Network China, an initiative that aims to intensify school exchanges between Germany and China, says that against this background, the curriculum reform is not surprising.

"The emphasis on 'Xi Jinping Thought' is being used in all areas of society," he says. "It is almost logical that China is now also using it in the education system."

Needless to say, the doctrine doesn't make student exchanges with China any easier.

Dictatorships are always afraid of color, pluralism and independent thinking citizens. And yet, Kristin Kupfer, a Sinology professor at the University of Trier, suggests that ideologically charged school lessons should not be interpreted necessarily as a sign of weakness of the CCP.

From the point of view of a totalitarian regime, she explains, this can also be interpreted as a signal of strength. "It remains to be seen whether the Chinese leadership can implement this so thoroughly," Kupfer adds. "Initial reactions from teachers and parents on social media show that such a widespread attempt to control opinion has raised fears and discontent in the population."

Die Welt
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