Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: Near-final thoughts on a repulsive presidential campaign

The most fractious and disgusting presidential campaign in recent history is staggering to an end (thankfully). We know you’re tired of it all, but we’re compelled to comment.

With a little more than two weeks to go, is the Trump candidacy doomed, or is there still a chance he can win? What is the impact now that most Utahns have received their ballots?

Pignanelli:The American people have not elected an angry president, someone defined by anger, since Andrew Jackson, which was 100 years before the invention of television. The American people do not want anger in their living room.” — George Will

My sainted Irish Catholic grandmother and mother always taught me to find the good in anyone. After months of struggle, I uncovered a redeeming feature about Donald Trump. Because his behavior so offends Utahns, we are the beneficiaries of positive national attention as the state has moved from a safe red state into a toss-up battleground category. The independent mindset of our citizens is lauded in traditional and social media. Thank you Donald for saving me from a guilt trip.

Trump's performance in the last debate was his best, but there were too many goof-ups and the usual insults to women and minorities. He did not alter momentum. Trump is aware of his deplorable situation and is ramping up the attacks of a “rigged system” to build an audience for his post-election endeavor: TRUMP TV (hoping millions will pay to watch him rant).

Barring an improbable disastrous wiki-leak disclosure, Clinton will prevail. The question is now whether she bests her husband and receives 50 percent of the American popular vote. All Utahns are anxious how Evan McMullin fares. Will he make us the state with a color other than red or blue when the 2016 elections are analyzed in the future?

Notwithstanding Trump’s death spiral, he will continue to influence local races. Utah Republican candidates will be forced to articulate opinions distancing themselves from Trump’s accusations of rampant voter fraud.

Mom, there is some good in that also.

Webb: To my immense disappointment, Hillary Clinton will become president of the United States, thanks to the worst-run Republican presidential campaign in many decades. We have one person to thank for the impending Clinton victory — Donald Trump.

This was an eminently winnable race against a very weak Democratic candidate who doesn’t represent the mood of the electorate or the values of America. I am inclined to move to my farm and become a hermit at the thought of a Clinton presidency.

Trump has managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by running a bumbling, undisciplined, unfocused campaign that broke every rule of politics. Even with all of his flaws, Trump could have won had he focused on the need for change, avoided insulting everyone, apologized for mistakes and moved on, demonstrated presidential stature and shown a little humanity. None of his initial missteps had to be fatal, had he not compounded them. It was one unforced error after another.

Instead, Trump kept negative stories alive for weeks by lashing back in undisciplined fashion. The media ignored the many and varied Clinton scandals because Trump kept diverting attention back to himself with idiotic claims and statements.

Personally, I wanted to support Trump. I would have voted for him in a heartbeat had he given me any reason to do so. Had he been halfway stable, focused on policy, projected real leadership, ended the self-destructive behavior, sincerely apologized, I would have gladly overlooked many of his faults. Sadly, it was not to be.

National Republicans are tearing into each other, while some local Republicans are grumbling about the Utah party. Is the Republican Party on the verge of self-destructing?

Pignanelli: The GOP is evolving to respond to 21st century dynamics, but the evolution of any species is rarely pretty. Human-rights conscious, libertarian minded Republican millennials are driving the McMullin phenomenon in Utah and unpredictable outcomes in other states. Time is on their side as the older elephants retire and they create a new GOP.

Webb: It’s going to be very difficult to recover from the Trump tornado. Trump has never really cared about the party, other GOP candidates, or even Republican control of Congress. The big question is whether the Trump true believers will stick with the party or will drop out and go elsewhere.

The one good thing the Republicans have going for themselves is Clinton. She has the capability to unite Republicans like nothing else.

What does it mean that Utahns aren’t excited about either Trump or Clinton?

Pignanelli: Maintaining suspicions towards Clinton while deploring Trump is now an American pasttime. For different reasons these two cannot connect. But Utah voters are different in that they are considering other candidates.

Webb: Utahns have principles and are smart enough not to fall for a huckster messiah or an old-fashioned, status-quo liberal who is a late-term abortion fanatic and who believes bigger government is the solution to all problems.

I can’t vote for either of these candidates, and neither can a lot of other Utahns.