A certain conventional wisdom has set in about the 2016 presidential race, particularly among those who don’t find the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency comforting: The electoral map highly favors Hillary Clinton, and she’s quite likely to win, unless a major terror attack hits between now and November. If that happens, all bets are off, and Trump could well bluster and fearmonger his way into the White House.
Some big names have made various versions of this argument. In Vanity Fair, Nick Bilton wrote last month that “national support for Donald Trump is hovering around 41 percent. But, you can bet that if any significant national-security threat is posed between now and November, Trump’s poll numbers will soar in the same way that Bush’s did in 2001.” New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman expressed similar certitude in a March column, declaring that “if, God forbid, there is a major terrorist attack on our soil between now and Election Day, Trump will reap enormous political benefits.”
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