To bring this nasty and bizarre campaign to a meaningful conclusion, what this country needs is an outburst of ticket splitting. Republicans should vote for Hillary Clinton, and Democrats should back Republican House and Senate candidates. This will strike most people as counterintuitive, if not foolish, but there are three good reasons for doing so.
The first is to make a statement about the outcome. Neither party deserves complete victory. Both nominated widely distrusted candidates. In the latest NBC-Wall Street Journal poll (taken before last week’s final debate), only 40 percent of respondents viewed Clinton positively; a mere 29 percent felt that way about Donald Trump. Parties shouldn’t be rewarded when their popular support is so thin.
The second reason is related: to avoid misinterpretation. Assuming Clinton wins, she and others will claim that the Democrats have a “mandate.” They don’t. Her triumph would be more a repudiation of Trump than an endorsement of her policies. Just because Trump’s behavior was extraordinary — routinely crude, hateful and uninformed — does not make Clinton a beloved figure with a compelling agenda.
The same point holds true for Republicans. Retaining control of the House and, possibly, the Senate would not signal the popularity of their political philosophy, whatever it is.