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Irresistible force meets immovable object. That's one way to describe the 2016 presidential campaign.

The immovable object is the close and bitter partisan division that has prevailed in general elections for the last two decades. The irresistible force is the corrosive discontent of American voters, their sense that the nation is on the wrong track and that experienced leaders are more the problem than the solution.

The immovable object may prove, in the end, to be immoveable. In which case, it becomes easy to forecast the shape of the presidential race, but hard to predict the winner. In all of this century's presidential elections, Republicans and Democrats have won between 46 and 53 percent of the vote. In the historical sense, that's a narrow range. No nominee has come close to winning the 57 to 61 percent landslides registered by Democrats and Republicans in 1936, 1956, 1964, 1972 and 1984.

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