The 2016 presidential election cycle has been characterized as the shattering of conventional wisdom, with all the rules of electoral politics thrown out the window. New data suggests that, come November, this election could actually be shaped by very conventional patterns.
On May 17, the NBC/SurveyMonkey Weekly Election Tracking Poll released new survey data showing that, if the election were held today, Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton would prevail over presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump by 48 to 45 percent, a margin of 3 percentage points.
What is most telling is the survey’s data on partisanship, which found that 87 percent of Republicans would vote for Trump while an identical 87 percent of Democrats would side with Clinton.
Despite all of the punditry on how the 2016 cycle would see huge shifts in the electorate’s voting patterns, these numbers suggest that as the primaries wind down and the nominees become solidified, the voters will support whoever represents their favored party.
The survey found that respondents who identify as conservative and very conservative heavily favor Trump while the same partisanship applies to how many respondents who identify as liberal and very liberal support Clinton.
The former Secretary of State fares better among self-identified moderates, although Trump has a slight edge among independent voters.
Clinton has had wider leaders over Trump in previous polls. The narrowing of the gap between them more closely resembles previous election cycle polling, according to Los Angeles Times columnist David Lauter.
"The polling testifies to the powerful tug that partisan identity has on voters, even in an election year when many other traditional political expectations have gone out the window," Lauter notes.
These survey results signal that the 2016 cycle could rapidly conform to the traditional election template, with voters siding with their party instead of the candidate.
A May 5 poll conducted by Reuters/Ipsos found that this election could be heavily influenced by negative partisanship, which is when voters cast their ballot in fear of their political opposition instead of faith in their candidate.
In that survey, 47 percent of Trump supporters cited a potential Clinton presidency as their main motivation for backing the business mogul. Meanwhile, 46 percent of Clinton supporters said the main reason they supported her was because they did not want Trump to win.
If these patterns hold, 2016 could be remembered as an election year with an unpredictable primary but a very predictable general election turnout.