The US Presidential election of 2016 has now its finalists cleared. Both have still some final votes to tally to actually clinch their nominations but the race is now set. Its Donald Trump on the Republican side and Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side. I already gave my preview of this race in March and most of what I wrote then still stands. Hillary is cruising for an epic landslide victory in November and since I wrote that in March, increasingly all independent analysts and by far the most of Republicans agree that Trump is far behind Hillary right now. Some Democrats show glee, others warn that they should not take this election for granted. And Trump has surprised his rivals time and again, he could arguably do that again this time against Hillary. Certainly all signs are clear already now, only a week into the ‘general election mode’ for both campaigns after Indiana’s primaries that Trump is indeed intending to ‘pivot’ strongly to run a different campaign in the general election than he ran in the Republican nomination contest this Spring. I said in the Spring of 2015 that this year, 2016 would be a remarkable election we should all watch and follow. I said in October of 2014 that Hillary would win in 2016 by a landslide and would thus become the first female President of the USA. But I’ve also said repeatedly, this will be a historic election worth following. It is even more so, now that we know its Trump who will run against Hillary. So I will do occasional election related blog articles. This is a long article - 14,000 words or about a chapter and half in one of my hardcover books, you better get a cup or two of coffee before you dig in. And this article once again has nothing to do with my usual topics here on this blog about mobile or tech or social media. So any tech topic readers of the blog can safely disregard this article. But for those of the fans of this blog who also are interested in the US political race, follow me after the fold and lets talk politics..
HOW WAS MY PREDICTION?
Lets start with a quick update on my predictions about this election cycle. I made a total contest election prediction for the Republican race in January, before any state had voted. In it I said the Top 3 at the end of the race would be Trump first, Cruz second and Rubio would finish with third most delegates. That is exactly how it was (Kasich who was still running last week, never caught up to Rubio’s delegate count). I said Rubio would be mathematically eliminated on March 15, Cruz would be mathematically eliminated on the last week of April. Both were correct. But check this out. I said that at the end of April, when Cruz was mathematically out, Trump would lead by 51% of all delegates, Cruz to be second with 34% and Rubio third with 9%. Reality was? Rubio yes third at 9%. Cruz not that good but not far off, at 30%. Trump? Was literally at 51%. Thats as close as any forecaster can hope on a forecast that runs 45 separate elections over several months where even polling did not exist for a third of those states. Also by the way, I said Trump will not clinch until June 7 (one more month of elections to go). The math is totally certain, Trump cannot clinch before June 7, and now that Cruz and Kasich have dropped out, there is nobody to contest Trump, unless he literally dies, he will clinch on June 7.
You can call me many things, but I am not bad at forecasting US Presidential elections haha.. So now what is coming next? I wrote in October of 2014 - not 2015, 2014 - that Hillary will win the 2016 Presidential election by a landslide of 10 points or more. That was before Trump had even suggested he is running in 2015. The ‘generic’ Republican was so much the underdog against Hillary that I called this year’s election in October of 2014. Not the only one to suggest she was the front-runner even back then, half a year before she even announced that she would run - but note, nobody said in 2014 that Hillary would have a landslide victory. I did.
Then in March it was clear (to me) that the pairing will be Trump against Hillary. So I made my first thorough election prediction of Hillary vs Trump and said that no, Trump will not lose by 10 points. Trump is far worse than the ‘generic’ Republican and Trump will lose by about 20 points. Yes he’s twice as bad as the generic Republican. Hillary, on the other hand, is essentially the exact candidate and campaign as I imagined a year and a half prior. She is ‘on target’ only her rival is far far worse than I expected. That was March. I totally stand by that prediction and everything I wrote in it (as the one from 2014). But now we have seen Trump longer, and the first signs of his pivot to a general election campaign. And several matters have emerged we did not know in March. That gives us more to consider and gives more clarity into the Summer and Autumn months of this 2016 campaign. So this is not to replace my March Hillary vs Trump forecast. This is to add further detail and analysis to it.
ITS 51 CONTESTS, NOT ONE
The modern US Presidential campaign by the two major parties is a Billion dollar enterprise. Yes it costs a Billion dollars to run in the general election. It is by many orders of magnitude the most expensive election of any country on the planet. It is also by far the longest campaign in any democracy. It is also remarkably complex as a political system. The candidates do not run in one Presidential race as it might seem on the surface. They actually run in 51 separate Presidential elections in the 50 states plus the District of Columbia. So someone wins the US Presidential Election in Montana (and achieves 3 ‘Electoral College’ votes). And someone wins the election on the same day in California (with 55 Electoral College votes) and so on, all states vote on the same day in November and whoever of the candidates achieves 270 Electoral College votes, that person becomes the President. This is not the same as winning the more VOTES. Al Gore in 2000 won more votes than George W Bush but W Bush became President (because he won more Electoral College votes, thanks to the final decision out of Florida’s recount). That is not unusual, it has happened five times and the previous one was with John F Kennedy against Richard Nixon in 1960. Nixon had more votes, Kennedy won the Electoral College and became President.
Of these 51 States (and DC) usually about a dozen or so, are so-called ‘battleground states’ where the decision is made. So for example in 2012 with Obama against Romney, 10 states were in play. The other 41 states and DC were not contested. Everybody knew that Romney was going to win in Texas, so Obama didn’t bother to campaign there nor pay for any expensive TV ads in Texas. They did not experience a race. Then in New York both sides knew that Obama would win that state, and Romney didn’t bother to campaign there or show any TV ads. Similarly Romney didn’t need to ‘defend’ Texas and Obama didn’t defend New York. 41 states were not contested. Everybody knew that Romney would win Oklahoma and Alabama and South Dakota. Everybody knew that Obama would win Oregon and Michigan and Delaware. The contest was in 10 states last time - Ohio, Florida, Virginia, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Iowa, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada and North Carolina. Everybody within both campaigns KNEW that these 10 states were the only thing that mattered. The national polling was irrelevant, it was vitally important to know if Obama was ahead or behind in Virginia, or Romney ahead or behind in Wisconsin, etc. As it turned out, Obama won 9 of the 10 states and obviously was re-elected.
In general, each Presidential election will be in a similar set of battleground states, but usually not exactly the same states. Some years its a ‘wider’ range of states that are ‘in play’ and other years its less. We have just seen Real Clear Politics reveal its first Electoral College map. RCP is the gold standard for US election polling data - they take all reputable polls and list them chronologically, and if enough data is available for any contest, the give their polling average of the most recent polls which fit a credibility window to be relevant right now. And RCP does this not just for the big national polling, they take ever in-state poll that is published, and apply the same system. So they look at each of those 51 contests (for which there is data, not all states are even polled when the outcome is so clear) and list all credible polls for the Hillary vs Trump race in every one of those states. Then they see which are within 10 points - and those are considered ‘toss-ups’ or ‘battleground’ states.
Compared to 2012, the field is now larger - 13 states are in play not 10. The Democrats have achieved ‘generic’ gains and certainly Trump on the ticket is pushing the matter also into Democratic direction. Of the 10 states that were contested last time, two have moved out of contention. Both are now considered a clear Democratic advantage (ie Hillary will win). Thats Wisconsin and New Mexico. This is bad news for Republicans that they were not split, one going to a Republican direction. Then there are five states that have joined the battleground collection. One of those is a former ‘safe’ Democratic state, Pennsylvania. But four of them were ‘safe’ Republican states last time - Indiana, Missouri, Arizona and Georgia. Pennsylvania is not ‘close’ its still strongly favoring Hillary at 7 points by RCP average but it is technically a toss-up because the polling distance is less than 10 points. Similarly Indiana, Missouri and Georgia are only somewhat inside the ‘toss-up’ range, leaning heavily to Trump. But alarmingly, Arizona is so badly lost to Republicans, its current RCP average is actually a few points on Hillary’s side. Also the only one of last cycle’s battleground states that Obama lost - North Carolina - is now well onto Hillary’s side rather than for Trump. The Electoral College map is ‘brutal’ for team Trump and the Republicans, to put it mildly.
Take Arizona. Trump will have less money than Hillary and far less viable surrogates, and a very tight-rope campaign to run. He can’t afford to spend much if any time trying to defend Arizona. He really can’t afford to lose the state, but Trump has a far better chance in the ‘Rust Belt’ of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana etc than in the South because Trump has angered so many Hispanic voters who form big voting blocks in Southern states especially on the Mexican border like Arizona. In 2012 Obama didn’t contest Arizona. Now as Hillary is a few points ahead of Trump, you can be sure she will campaign heavily in Arizona. Her visibility in the state will drive up the Hispanic and female vote, which will not necessarily win her the state (but most likely will). What it will do, is doom Senator John McCain’s re-election campaign. Originally in this cycle, when the Senate control was evaluated, McCain of Arizona was considered a ‘safe’ Red seat for the Repulicans. Now recent polling says he is tied - totally vulnerable. That is before Hillary brings her surge to town. McCain will drown in the tsunami-wave of Hillary’s campaign simply as a side-product assuming Hillary wants to campaign for Arizona. So as long as Hillary fights for Arizona, it drowns McCain in the process - even if in the end Hillary loses Arizona. McCain was too vulnerable to begin with. And you can be sure, if the contest is one where she is ahead - she will fight for Arizona, vigorously. Plus she has a ton of money and the largest stable of surrogates of any candidate ever. Meanwhile what of McCain - he doesn’t even want to be seen with Trump. So if Trump does come to town, McCain will go hide somewhere.
The US election system is remarkably complex and multi-faceted. It is incredibly long and outrageously expensive. The one thing no campaign can replicate is the time of the candidate. There is no other as competitive contest in politics anywhere and one with so much money in it. The campaign staff will measure in the thousands by November. The volunteers count in the tens of thousands. The management of a campaign requires incredible skill and there is no substitute for experience.
THE LEAST FACES THE MOST
That brings us to the first new observation of this blog article about this year’s race, to add more detail for us. This year sees the Least meet the Most. Its the least prepared campaign facing the most prepared campaign, of any modern-era (TV era) campaign, at this point, six months before Election Day. Never before, has any (modern) Presidential nominee been less prepared for the race as Trump is now. He has essentially secured his party’s nomination because both of his last rivals have quit the race. Trump has been running since June of last year. But Trump didn’t take this race seriously. When Jeb Bush, Scott Walker and Ted Cruz started their campaigns last summer, they started building big campaign systems and organizations and fund-raising and ground-game staff and datamining systems to prepare for the eventual general election campaign this year. Obviously all three failed to get the nomination. Trump? He never bothered. He skipped that part. He didn’t do ANY of that. He didn’t bother to do any internal polling, he just read the public polls. He didn’t set up a strong ground game, instead he just relied on having his massive rallies. He didn’t need to have a TV ad buying team because he could just call any TV show and they would put him on the air. Trump got to this point with at best a skeleton staff. At worst, without the vital running gear to go anywhere in a general election. His first campaign manager, Lewandowski was a joke, totally unprepared for a national race. Now he finally hired Manafort a month ago and he for the first time had a professional competent manager - 10 MONTHS after his rivals when there was only seven months left to Election Day. We’ve seen now Manafort on a hiring spree and putting out fires and making big changes. The campaign up to April of this year was a joke and utterly ill-prepared to win. Now he is building a team.
Note - Trump is that naturally talented and so much the right type of TV celebrity and social media superstar to be able to get here with a Mickey Mouse staff. Imagine what he could have done, had he had professional management for 10 months earlier. But that is neither here nor there. The relevant point is.. no Presidential nominee of either party has ever been this ill-prepared at this point in time - as a campaign - as Trump is. Ill-prepared not for the Republican nomination race - that was the easy part. Ill-prepared for the general election part, which is the hard part of this race. And that work has to be started early. A year earlier than Trump did. Want a contrast?
Hillary Clinton knew she would run for President before Bill Clinton became Governor of Arkansas. That Governor gig was Hillary’s idea. She needed Bill to be Governor, so he could run for President. Then Hillary needed Bill to win the Presidency first, because only with all that prep, could she one day succeed Bill to become the first female President of the USA. She has been planning this run for four decades. Think about that. Trump was thinking in December that its a joke and he’ll quit before Iowa starts to vote. Hillary started preparing four decades ago. When Bill ran the first time for President in 1992, he introduced Hillary as the Two Clintons for the price of one. She was integral to his campaign. As First Lady she took on a larger role than any wife before, including trying to get Hillarycare, her concept of socialized medicine passed into law (it failed). She was STUDYING how to run and what it took to win, watching her political marvel husband and learning from him. She watched and ran with her husband for re-election and again they won.
Hillary ran herself for Senator twice, then she ran for President in 2008 hitting into that once-in-a-lifetime super Candidate Obama and yet took him to his closest race (After Hillary, for Obama McCain in the general election of 2008 was a piece of cake; and Romney in 2012 was no match at all to Obama, he nearly sleepwalked that election). Then Hillary saw Obama’s re-election kind of ‘from the inside’ while serving as his Secretary of State. Hillary knew the moment she had lost in 2008 that she would run again in 2016 and she has worked tirelessly just on that goal. Its why she immediately endorsed Obama and then campaigned strongly with him. She was prepping for now.
The reason Hillary took the Secretary of State job with Obama was - to win this election in 2016. She knew it will be a foreign policy election (most elections are) and that it was her weakest suite. So she worked to make her the most qualified FOREIGN POLICY candidate on either side, out of all conceivable candidates (as John McCain clearly was no longer interested in running). She kept good relations with Obama and with his blessing, started to poach some of his best staff to her campaign. The Hillary 2016 team is a blend of the Clinton Machine of 2008 - which at the time was considered the best political machine on either side of the aisle - and the Obama campaign, best political machine in our lifetimes. And if you remember anything from the 2012 race, the Obama team was never ever once flustered. They were quietly confident and just ran their campaign. When all pundits said - the economy was so bad, no incumbent had ever been re-elected under those conditions - he prevailed. When late polls showed a tied race and even Romney pulling ahead - the Obama team stayed quiet and focused and not one iota flustered. They were quietly confident - because they knew. They knew they were winning. It was not an overconfidence or arrogance. It was a huge effort in the best data systems that gave them the best info about the real race, not the vague images that a public poll might give on any day. This all is now in Hillary’s team.
Hillary’s 2016 campaign is literally the most prepared Presidential campaign in history. It has known the longest that it will run, who are its key people, what is the main battle, who is the main rival, how that is to be handled, etc. Trump on the other hand, is the least prepared candidate and campaign in the modern era, who only just a few weeks ago started to get serious and even hire the appropriate people - who haven’t worked together before - and most who do not know their candidate at all - and where even the Campaign Manager Manafort is clearly having tons of trouble attempting to ‘control’ their candidate. Even against Bernie Sanders, Trump’s team would be 10 months behind. Against Hillary, its more like 10 years behind.
We didn’t know this in March or last year. We thought maybe this Trump ‘strategy’ was deliberate confusion and he had some brilliant master-plan. He couldn’t be this naive or this stupid or this ill-prepared. But he is and was. Now he is learning on the fly, trying to figure out what to do next. Manafort meanwhile is trying to put out all the fires going on simultaneously. So we see the weird stuff, like now, suddenly, Trump says no, actually the Muslim thing was just a suggestion. Yet he wrote an actual Trump statement declaring it and said repeatedly he would institute it within his first 100 days. Now, for example Trump is revising his tax plans to be something closer to reality and not total ridiculous fantasy as his first published tax plan was (the one that would have added just 10 Trillion dollars to the national debt.. nice job Mr Businessman-bozo).
Now we know. He was faking it. He was playing the ultimate con on the Republican voters. There was no plan. Almost anything he said was said only to get ratings with truly no relevance to what he might do as President. There will be no wall. There will be no Deportation Police to round up 11 million illegals. He will not ban Muslims. He will not start trade wars with China, Mexico and Japan and he obviously will not be able to bring jobs back to the USA. He has been a total fraud. And right now, he doesn’t even know what he would want or what he would do as President, because he never even knew what a President can and cannot do. But he is going to be the Republican nominee. The least prepared nominee both as a campaign and politician; but also least prepared as to what that job requires and consists of. Trump would want to BE President, he just never bothered to even think what the job would mean if he ever had it.
What Trump ran up to now, yes, that bizarre and deeply troubling campaign could win the Republican nomination (but not the modern Democratic party nomination) partly because the racists and haters have collected there, and partly because the dumbest voters are among Republicans. They watch the most deceitful news channel - Fox - and their politicians have prepared them to believe in total fairy-tales. And to utterly mistrust the newsmedia even to the point, that Trump voters don’t trust Fox News haha. Isn’t that ironic. For Republican voters to fall for ‘he tells it like it is’ where Trump is literally the biggest liar ever to run for any major office - Politifact measured Trump lies 76% of the time, even Dick Cheney only lied 59% of the time - that is a brilliant con man. But he is a con artist. He is a fraud. And now we start to see it. Trump is flipflopping on his major positions so fast, he makes Romney seem solid like a block of granite.
What can Trump loyalists do? They are stuck with him. They have no other Republican choices anymore and to them, Hillary is of course far worse. Many of Trump’s core supporters will actually think all media are lying when they point out Trump’s latest flip-flop even when that voter had heard Trump say the previous thing, whatever that happened to be. But consider those in the middle. Trump did not have a plan. His way to discover his fans, was to throw every conceivable conservative idea at the audiences (and at times also some liberal ideas too) and see what stuck. So Mr Businessman is suddenly for trade wars and tariffs. The man of the party of business enterprise is preaching Presidential edicts to dictate to private companies what they must do or cannot do. He thinks the President can do that? To be a Dictator? ‘I will make Apple manufacture iPhones in the USA.’ That kind of bullshit. Sounds like a Socialist or Communist to me, but somehow this man was loved by... Republicans. Balance the budget? Trump got away with saying he loves debt, and he’d renegotiate with America’s debtors - and then - the Jimmy Carter gambit - lets print more money and run up ridiculous inflation to Argentina or Zimbabwe levels. Yeah. That sounds ‘Republican’ to me too. Trump is behaving not like modern Democrats who could be called ‘Republican lite’ but rather by a genuine Socialist or Communist. And yet Republican voters fell for all this nonsense?
Because Trump was feuding with all party elders and thought-leaders, he could not hear the wise words guiding him from there. So his past eleven months have produced the most damaging series of statements to doom any GENERAL election candidacy ever. Whatever Trump now does, in attempting to sound reasonable - guided by his growing political professional team - will only stop further damage, and perhaps mitigate some of the damage. But the videotape is already done. Trump has taken so many contradictory positions on all major issues, that the Democrats can have him saying the most damaging thing on any issue - right into camera on videotape - on every single issue. At one point Trump said he likes Planned Parenthood (a no-no with Republicans). Then later, to ‘correct’ that, he said he’d defund PP. Now which tape will the Democrats run - the second one of course ignoring the first one. Trump did say, he wants to defund PP. Now he’s screwed. That happened on essentially every issue - because Trump had no plan, he was just winging it and was not managed professionally. I am certain Trump himself is not aware of what all silly things he’s said. Nobody else on his team know what is the full scale of the damage. The one team who knows? Hillary Clinton’s team. They have every second of Trump on tape, meticulously categorized for use at the optimal point in just the right TV ad.
Meanwhile, who was under discipline all the past decade? Always measured, always careful - and calculated and boring and wooden - but never ever saying stupid things to damage her chances in 2016? Hillary. Always always always under discipline. Anything she says sounds calculated as if it was poll-tested. That is because it is. Now, does that make her seem calculating and not genuine. Sure. But its FAR FAR FAR better than to take contradictory positions Trump set a world record for contradicting himself with three opposite positions taken within a 2 hour period and total of 5 consecutively contradictory positions in two days on the same one topic. Or to say stupid things like lets have Japan and South Korea deploy nuclear weapons. Or lets print more money.
That Trump which so many ‘he tells it like it is’ fans of Trump fell in love with was an illusion and a fraud. He is gone. Some echoes of him will remain, a vague refrain. But none of his ridiculous promises will come to pass, even if he ever was to become President. But already now this Summer and Autumn, Trump is pivoting away from those positions because Trump wants to win. And Manafort is slowly but surely convincing Trump that those ludicrous positions were.... ludicrous and if he keeps repeating those, he will definitely lose. So Trump is rapidly back-pedaling and flip-flopping like a whole Regiment of Romneys.
BUT BEWARE, HE IS LEARNING
Notice a few things. First. That even without any coherent plan, and a total scattershot approach of continously self-contradictory positions which would have sunk the strongest of candidates before, Trump won his race. The year was measured to have the strongest field in Republican party history. And Trump stumbled from one gaffe to the next, from one campaign blunder to the next. Yet he won. It says a lot about how powerful he is as a natural talent. Imagine how great a politician Trump could have been, had he had a chance to hone his skill in a local election like to Congress, Senate or a Governorship prior to running for President. And imagine how dominating he could have been, had he had professional management (and coaching) from last June, not from April a few weeks ago.
Secondly, Trump is running away from his most poisonous positions. Not cautiously pivoting, he is running away from them. He is starting to behave EXACTLY like a politician, even hiring his fund-raising team - for someone who said proudly he was self-funding. Of the SuperPAC created to help him win, he previously disavowed them and insisted they stop. Now he embraces them. This is totally a different candidate from Trump 1.0 we saw up to a month ago. So some of the most vile stuff he said, was obviously only an act, he never meant it. Thats nice to know, it still caused tons of pain - we read stories all the time about teenager Muslims being teased in school now, etc. All thanks to idiot Trump and his poisonous rhetoric. But that is at least being calmed down and probably for the most part will be eliminated in the latest iteration of Trump 2016. (For those counting, this is now Trump 3.0, we briefly experienced a Trump 2.0 but that was only a bug-fix; this is the honest total reboot).
Thirdly - beware - Trump will get a lot BETTER. He is said to be a fast learner. He is clearly smart. He is now under professional management and coaching. He clearly hates it, and he is clearly resisting but Manafort and his team are molding a new Trump for us. This latest Trump 3.0 is no more genuine than Trump 1.0 was (or Trump 2.0) but this new Trump 3.0 is at least not inherently vile and a pure monster of a person. This latest Trump will try to play nice. This Trump will try to appear to be almost human. But as I said, all that he’s said in the past 11 months is stored on videotape in the vast library of Hillary & Co and they will run every second of that enormous collection, you can be sure of it. So Trump cannot escape his recent past, but we should see almost a clear end to the nonsense (notwithstanding all that, he just bragged about his foreign policy experience due to Miss Universe; and then all that nonsense about the debt and printing money etc this weekend. Trump 3.0 is a work in progress).
Now here is the really difficult part for the Trump team. They need to ‘reposition’ Trump in a way that is least damaging, but most helpful to the general election. They are all Republicans. Their natural instinct is to propose Republican and Conservative remedies. Those tend to be ones not in favor by US voters today. Meanwhile Trump was recently a Democrat, he would at best be a moderate Republican. His natural instinct is against much of the more conservative of Republican dogma. And Trump doesn’t ‘speak Republican’ as we saw for example how badly he fumbled the abortion question (should women having abortions be punished). The team has to create a total new, fresh-from-the-ground-up semi-conservative and yet consistent position, that is at least acceptable for most Republican voters and as much as possible not in direct contradition with everything Trump said so far - and nobody on their team even knows what all Trump has been saying in the past 11 months. All this has to be done with still a bare minimum of staff - where most of the best and brightest Republicans don’t want to go anywhere near his campaign, and under the spotlight of everybody watching how Trump handles say the conflict with Paul Ryan. Not easy. Its likely to make blunders as it evolves but.. by the time of the Convention, there will be coherent new political agenda for Trump which will seem very familiar and reasonably conservative for most Republican voters. No more liberal than those of McCain or Romney. Trump will not be cheering Planned Parenthood or promising to raise taxes for millionaires.
Any normal campaign would have done this last July and August. Hillary had done this in 1991 haha and only revisited and refined and updated and fine-tuned it to perfection in the interim decades. Hillary’s policies and plans are as iron-tight as any politician ever has had, and tested against secret internal polling all to gain support and not lose any, and be air-tight in terms of expert views and statistics etc. Plus she’s memorized them all by now and knows them by heart. Trump will be stumbling at times as he hasn’t learned his lines yet on what his latest plans and policies are.
But while Trump will be Trump and he’ll always keep saying dumb things without thinking, and his insights into anything Presidential is wafer-thin, he will get better. He will say ever less dumb things. He will start to sound ever more Presidential. So the idea that he will continue to be a buffoon into September and October is invalid. He is already showing a desire to learn and improve and become more electable. That will only grow, as he sees some gains and he sees ever more how his past stupid stuff is now being used - relentlessly - by Hillary against him. The Republicans never did this properly up to now. Hillary has already done it better than any of the Stop Trump project achieved and she’s only starting. The big guns are being rolled out for June when her SuperPAC starts a 91 million dollar TV ad campaign to destroy Trump’s image. It will be the largest negative campaign ever run before a Convention and it will destroy him, because so much of the worst stuff never was used at all, or not used properly against him by Republicans in the primary race. Trump will be very sorry about much of what he’s said but it will be far too late now. However, he will not continue down that path. He will now try to seem and sound Presidential and the more those attacks wound him, the more Manafort can convince Trump to pivot to better positions that are more acceptable to the general electorate and also still to Republican voters.
At some point in coming years, someone will do a thorough study of everything Trump said, and compare it to other candidates. I am certain the finding will be that by a whole order of magnitude, Trump has said more dumb things this election cycle than anyone ever before, yes, including Sarah Palin. By a whole order of magnitude. What his rivals need, is a total collection of what all he said; a huge budget to research and organize it; to rank it against any single state and its voters and their issues; and the political will to use it ruthlessly in those states at the optimal time. Hillary’s campaign is, as if created just to destroy something like Trump. Consider Obama (or Bernie, gosh). Too nice. No, you want someone really Machiavellian, really cut-throat, really battle-hardened to go after Trump in every way with the most vicious attacks. If you can’t have Dick Cheney, then who? On the Democratic side that is not John Kerry or Al Gore or Michael Dukakis or Joe Biden or even Elizabeth Warren. Who is the most nasty street-fighter on the Democratic side. Thats Hillary, of the Clintons (not Bill). What Hillary has to control is that she won’t come across as too nasty. Thats where the SuperPAC from Citizens United comes in incredibly handy this election cycle (before al SuperPACs and Citizens United being banned during her first term and also ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court). Now Hillary can do the nice stuff and let the SuperPAC destroy Trump in his own words. Also, Hillary can safely hide behind REPUBLICANS condemning their own guy.
SO HE LIKES TO RALLY
So then the campaigns. Trump has said just in the past days, that he isn’t interested in building a big ground game, he wants to run his campaign like the one that got him this far, ie by the rallies. That is not how you win a general election. It is a sure-fire way to lose a general election if you don’t have a strong ground-game and that takes tons of time, effort, money, time, competence and time. Did I mention time? Hillary’s ground game for her Presidential run in the battleground states (others don’t matter) was first built in 2008. Plenty of that remains. She then inherits the fundamentals of the Obama 2008 and Obama 2012 campaigns. And she’s been building upon those foundations, all this primary run while doing that shadow-boxing with Bernie. When Hillary had her ‘listening tour’ at the start of her run last year? That was all in battleground states. She has been meeting with, personally, with all the key ‘senior staff’ of those ground teams and posed with pictures and motivated them back when there was no hurry, no pressure, no rivals, no press, nothing to hassle them. That is paying dividends now. She still occasionally happens to bump into a couple on a random event but she’s done the heavy lifting part of all the key people to get them fully committed to her. Trump has done none of this.
Trump will need to build a ground game whether he wants to or not. He will have some in place and some will be built by the Republican party and various support groups like many religious groups, the NRA (National Rifle Association) etc. It will cost him money, which he will not want to spend. He will have to meet with some people which he won’t want to do and it is now taking VERY valuable time away from campaigning. Many who are recruited to do this were Cruz people or from other campaigns who are at best luke-warm to Trump. Will they be giving it their all or will they phone it in and leave early and call in some days sick, etc, who knows. Most will not have anywhere near the loyalty that Hillary’s teams will have. Obviously some who are NOW onboard will feel totally betrayed as they see the blatant con-artist game being played where all promises vanish and Trump turns himself into what he just only weeks ago warned about - a lying two-faced fully-bought-for mouthpiece politician. With lobbyists galore. And a SuperPAC.
So Trump likes to have his rallies. This is yet another curse. There is not enough time and not large enough stadiums to ever meet all required voters at such rallies. Not physically possible. Its yes, a good thing to do - in moderation - but as we saw from the New York primary campaign the first for Trump that Manafort was running - he had Trump also speaking in very modest-sized venues, but at voting districts where it mattered. This is smart campaigning. And its rare for a large rally to be smart campaigning (it can be, a college town for example). It can be a good photo-op, a few times per month, but not every day. Trump however, he craves the large audience. As I’ve written before, its like a drug and he’s now addicted to it. Those screened audiences truly adore Trump (as the image they were sold, ie Trump 1.0). First problem is, that Trump will not want to do the small venue things and especially not any lousy town halls and meet-and-greets. But Manafort will win some of the arguments and get him to do some. Trump will be the boss and do also many big events. Their balance tells us a lot about which one actually wears the pants in that relationship.
Now we get the Rolling Stones problem. The huge stadium crowds don’t want to hear the latest album. They want to hear Brown Sugar and Satisfaction and Jumping Jack Flash and the Harlem Shuffle. When Trump speaks in his Trump 3.0 voice, the crowds will be eerily silent. When Trump feels uncomfortable, he will instinctively go off-script and into his classic routines - we’re gonna build a wall - and the crowd will go crazy. He will be pulled back to playing his ‘hits’. And that means, he has ever less chance to break out of Trump 1.0 into Trump 3.0 and his new message has far less opportunity to come out. And of course, as the new message was created to REPLACE the old unworkable Trump 1.0, any reverting to the old means again, lots of damage control and wasted effort to try to get the star back on track with the new message. The larger the stadium the bigger the danger that Trump will go off-message - and back into Trump 1.0 mode. Because THAT is what the carefully-screened Trump-loving audience wants. THEY however, would vote for Trump anyway. If Trump was smart, he would BLOCK the Trump supporters and only talk to uncommitted audiences haha, but thats no fun. They might boo him. Note that this is a problem that Trump himself created, by feeding his idiots the nonsense before. They now crave it. And if Trump wants his audience to love him at the rallies, he has to give them that again. Bad mix. At the very least, it greatly diminishes the ability of Trump to use the big rallies to get his ‘real’ ie new ie Trump 3.0 GENERAL ELECTION message out to even his voters, far less any independent voters.
Now Hillary, her strength never was the large audience events (differing from Bill or Obama) but she’s a good speaker. She is, however, very happy to do town halls and to go do the retail politics and support the ground game including doing some token phone-banking etc. Thats how you rally the troops. Its FAR more valuable to winning in the general election than having 20,000 people at a stadium yelling your name. In this way its like Trump is a one-trick pony but brilliant at that one trick. Hillary is a Swiss Army Knife, not the perfect tool in anything but she will do it all, and do all of it reasonably well. By far by far and by far the more versatile and complete ‘campaigner’ than Trump. And sadly for Trump while the big crowds will get attention of the media, there is no strong correlation with huge crowds and winning (but there IS a correlation with tiny crowds and losing - see Santorum. Wasn’t he the one who had an audience of 1 at one event haha, who even then wasn’t convinced after an hour with him).
Oh gosh then probably the biggest swindle that Trump has pulled. That he is self-funding, therefore he cannot be bought. He is his own man, nobody owns him. Ha. Ha. Ha. I think this will be incredibly bitter to Republican primary voters right about November of this year. I think its what they will most hate about the man once called a Republican who brought them the worst election loss they will remember. The man whose name shall not be mentioned. The man whose name will become a curse.
Trump has repeated time and again how he is self-funding and therefore he is not beholden to the lobbyists, corporations and billionaires. And that he has no SuperPAC. Well, now last week he hired a fund-raiser, who now already has a team. Their intention is to raise 1 Billion dollars for the general election for Trump (good luck with that. Many of the richest donors have said no way, some have already switched to fund Hillary, others have said they won’t fund Trump they’ll fund down-ticket Republicans instead, and others have said - seriously - that they’ll support Trump but not give him money). Yeah. They know Trump. They also can see that his history is to go bankrupt and escape. They see the polls say he’s cruising for an epic bruising. This cycle they’ve already dumped literally hundreds of million on other losers like Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Rick Perry and Ted Cruz. Each of those seemed like better bets back then, than what Trump looks like now. Not a big appetite to throw more good money after bad.
Trump will definitely get hundreds of millions of dollars from those donors yes. But its costly to collect money, especially doing it fast, at enormous amounts and from reluctant donors. So it means it costs physically money to collect money. More time by a larger fund-raising team hitting the GOP donor lists more times, phone calls, visits, dinners etc. It means various goodies given out in return which is never free, starting with good food and drink at dinners etc. And very importantly, it means the TIME from Trump which he does not have to spare. Hillary has been running to fund-raising events continuously. She is a well known, well-trusted politician (well trusted by HER DONORS) so she doesn’t have to show up herself. She can have fund-raisers for her, that are run by Bill or Chelsea or others. And if she does show up at a fund-raiser, she doesn’t have to stay the full event, she can show up for a few quick comments and some pictures, shake a few hands of VIPs, and then rush off. Trump is so distrusted by REPUBLICAN donors - they WANT him to explain himself fully. Stay and talk. Explain. Answer questions. And because they all distrust him, he has to do more of these, the donors pay less per visit (than what Hillary achieves) and any of Trump’s surrogates are utterly untrustworthy with high-level donors like moron Dr Ben Carson or any of Trump’s lackies like Chris Christie or Rick Perry. Because Trump so openly despised the donors and ridiculed them, he will find it incredibly hard to pry any money out of their hands, but with time, and professional fund-raising he will get plenty. But nothing like one Billion dollars. Hillary meanwhile, will easily coast to at least 1.5 Billion and possibly as much as 2 Billion dollars.
Now the whole ‘he tells it like it is’ and ‘he is no ordinary politician’ and ‘he can’t be bought’ and ‘he’s independent’ and ‘he is self-funding’ turns out to be a lie. There is likely going to be a whole line of attack on Trump’s credibility on this blatant lie, to suppress the voter enthusiasm on the Republican side, to expose this swindle, by Hillary and her SuperPAC. It will definitely be a natural line of attack by Bernie Sanders when he is working to reunite the Democratic party to fight against Trump after he is mathematically eliminated.
PAY ME BACK
I want to mention that 45 million dollar loan too. Trump did not self-fund his primary run. He took in about a third of the money used, as donations via his website. And almost all of the rest was not Trump giving his own campaign money - it was only a loan. Trump can be paid back that loan at any time. And he is a stingy man as most filthy-rich people are. And he wants every cent back. So when those millionaires start to pony up their donations to Trump, have a guess where the early money goes? Not to buy TV ads against Hillary - just to pay back the loans to Trump. Watch the campaign finance reporting, Trump Campaign debt will shrink fast in August and by latest end of September it will be gone. He will be paid back his whole loan and therefore, Trump in reality didn’t self-fund his campaign even at the level of 5%. He only forced his AUTUMN campaig donors to pay his SPRING primary campaign. Is that not sneaky or what. Its what a Trump would do. Wait, it is what Trump did do.
So Trump warned Republican voters to beware of sleazy politicians who sell their souls to rich donors. Then after they are stuck with Trump, he goes out and sells his soul to those very same rich donors. Now, after Trump has insulted this whole process and those donors for 11 months, do you think they will LOVE Trump and shower him with money, or will they extract ENORMOUS nasty promises out of Trump to give him modest amounts of money? Yeah. It will be the most corrupt, most sold, most sleazy worst-polluters, worst criminal-corporations and nastiest lobbyists who will go to bed with Trump. And he like a good slut will sleep with them all - because Trump is 45 million dollars in the hole and needs to get his OWN MONEY BACK.
Why didn’t the Republican primary field see this obvious ploy developing? How naive were they? Why did they fall for it? The one good thing is, that Trump won’t win, so this gambit will not work out, and in the future the Republican party will be wise to this ruse and look out for it. Republican voters, they however, they will be so bitter about this, I think some will have a hard time ever trusting anyone of any party and many may forever give up voting altogether. Oh, this problem only will impact the Republicans.........
Note how the fund-raising issue now brings a massive conflict with Trump’s time. You cannot run without money. Hillary’s team has huge funds in the bank. Trump is 45 million dollars in debt, so the first 45 million collected is just to recover the loan. Trump needs to spend more time just to convince donors to trust him and give him money. They will pay him less. Trump has far more to build in far less time, so everything costs more - including buying TV ad time at the last minute while Hillary has booked ad time months in advance knowing where it is needed eventually. Trump is seen to be headed to an epic loss - many professionals do not want to be associated with the obvious loss. Meanwhile others have taken it very personally when Trump attacked THEIR guy before, in the primaries. Trump will have a hard time finding qualified staff, and to hire them he has to pay above the going rate. A bonus just to join Trump’s disaster. But on Hillary’s side she was seen as the coronation run the obvious winner who will easily win and become the first woman President. EVERYBODY on the Democratic side wants to be on her team, so she can hire talent at a DISCOUNT... Meanwhile Hillary has far more money, her donors all know her and trust her, and she needs to spend far less time collecting money - but each time she automatically collects far more. Not to mention Bill is the best fund-raising surrogate any politician ever had, and that includes the Bush family for Jeb and Trump has no surrogate he could use so every time it has to be Trump himself who shows up.
RETROACTIVELY FUND YOUR DESTRUCTION
So lets look just a bit deeper on this awesome scam Trump pulled on his campaign funding millionaire ‘friends’. Each of those had a favorite in this race. Some ended up funding more than one. Trump destroyed them all. But here’s the rub. He did it with borrowed money. So he WILL be getting the donations from those rich donors, but now, they cannot pull any strings on Trump, to get him to tone down his attacks - on the favored candidate(s). Nor to try to sound less like an arrogant bigoted racist. So Trump got to run exactly the campaign he wanted - plus he had nobody checking his spending, he bought what he wanted - often at full price value from his OWN companies like his hotels and his airplanes. Then after the fact, he bills the Billionaires millions to pay back his loans. And they end up subsidising FULLY that bully who destroyed their favorite candidate(s). Nice job if you can get it.
And there is really no way for those donors to avoid this now. There is no alternative. If they intend to try to have ANY influence on Trump, if he were to become President, they have to play along with this scam. To fund his scheme fully, to get entry to the insiders to have that influence they are used to. Or skip the Presidency and only fund lower-tier politicians (many will do that) or go fund Hillary instead (some are doing that). But if you are that rich, a Billionaire give-or-take a bit, then yeah, you can run this gambit too. Self-fund the early campaign only via loans, and destroy your rivals, then force the party normal supporters to pay off your loans - to yourself. Better yet, stay in the best hotels in the world and fly in your private jet, and have them pay that too. Help make some profit to Trump Corp out of the Trump campaign run haha.
Then we have the early general election campaign as its just started a week ago on both sides. How is that going. Both sides know they have no need to campaign for primary elections. What did Hillary do. Even before Indiana voted, Hillary had abandoned Indiana (she knew she would lose there) and went to campaign in neighboring Ohio instead. Ohio has already voted in their primary. Why was Hillary in Ohio? Because Hillary knew Ohio is a battleground state in 2016 and she HAS to campaign there. She will never have enough time to campaign ‘enough’ in the battleground states, every single day from now until November is vital TIME. She is not wasting one moment on a useless race like Indiana’s primary. Hillary went to Ohio to campaign now in May for winning in November. That is what a smart campaign does.
After Cruz and Kasich quit the race and the primary season was over, Trump went to a rally in West Virginia. WV is not a battleground state. It wasn’t one in 2012 nor 2008 either, so nobody on his team could even THINK it is one. Yet there he was. Wasting time that will never come back. He should have been in neighboring Virginia instead - that is a battleground state now in 2016, as it was in 2012 and in 2008. Trump was acting stupidly. Wasting time he does not have. He should be only seen in battleground states from now until November, and the only reason not to, is either if he is on TV or if he is at a fund-raising event. Under no circumstances should he waste any time in any state that is not in play. That was a moronic move. But Trump had booked a big venue, there was a nice rally for him, he is a stingy man, he doesn’t want to cancel and not get his money back. He went where the big audience was, even though that wasted a day of his time. He just wasted 1/180th of his campaign on a stupid stop. If the campaign value is 1 Billion dollars, Mr ‘Smart Businessman’ just threw away 5.6 million dollars. That is a total novice move. Hillary is playing a VERY smart game while Trump is playing a VERY dumb game.
Now again, this is not going to continue to be this lopsided, but right now, every day is gone forever. The clock is running and the smart campaign is disciplined and very meticulously planned; the idiot campaign still shoots from the hip and makes amateur mistakes. When the autopsy is made of this carcass of a campaign, they will say the summer was wasted by Trump while Hillary’s campaign made exceptionally efficient use of the summer.
So then of the campaign surrogates. I wrote back in my Hillary will win two years from now preview in 2014 that Hillary brings an unprecedented collection of campaign surrogates. She has a former President, still reasonably young and vigorous in Bill to run with her. The most popular ex President still alive, and the best speaker among the ex-Presidents still alive. Then Chelsea too, a growing political force. She will have (not full time) the sitting President in Obama something Al Gore ran away from in 2000, John McCain ran away from in 2008 and Daddy Bush ran away from in 1988. Obama? The best campaigner in our lifetimes. What a surrogate! Also Michelle Obama wants a political career, she’ll do campaigning for Hillary. Plus there will be the twins, Julian Castro Hillary’s VP pick, and his twin brother Congressman Joaquin Castro. This is before we consider how eagerly just about everybody else in the Democratic field will want to run alongside Hillary from Chuck Schumer to Al Franken to Elizabeth Warren (she is just playing for power now, she will be the total trooper when that time comes). And trust me, Bernie will be a trooper also for the cause.
That part was known and visible from 2014. What was not at all visible, was how bad it would be on the Republican side. You’d think that the Bush clan would be loyal Republicans and support whoever was the nominee. That Romney and McCain etc would be campaigning with the Republican. Not this year. Trump is still feuding with Paul Ryan and just yesterday Romney issued a fresh condemnation of Trump (about his tax returns). When I wrote my Hillary wins in two years, with a 10 point landslide - blog in 2014, I did assume that whoever was the Republican nominee, that person had also a reasonable amount of ‘normal’ surrogates. Not the massive void that Trump has amassed. This is yet once again, the ultimate historical mirror. Again Hillary has the best ever collection of surrogates both in number and in quality (never has two of the three best speakers as President, been alive to support the same party’s nominee as now for the first time Bill Clinton and Obama to support Hillary) and the other side, Trump to be so bare of any ‘superstar’ surrogates. His highest-ranking supporter is Bob Dole who was the Presidential nominee losing to Clinton in 1996. Thats going far back in time, by an old man by now, who was never the electrifying speaker to begin with. And thats Trump’s top dog? Yeah. And try to pitch Chris Christie to any audience that is not purely Republicans nowadays as his popularity in New Jersey is like 15%.
So we then look at the baby-man as Jon Stewart just called him. Trump cannot understand or behave in his own best interest. He rather acts truly childishly and prolongs silly feuds that are wasting valuable time to no possible benefit. Why bother to feud with Morning Joe Scarborough? A right-leaning TV talkshow host. Why? What possible good can come out of this feud. Joe has been one of Trump’s strongest supporters. Trump just is so childish and has some perceived slight and suddely he is angry. Like a baby. Whats with the fight with Paul Ryan? Why? Trump has WON. Why threaten Ryan and say he should not chair the Convention. What is wrong with this baby-man? He should be doing everything to unite his party, instead he prolongs old fights and starts new ones.
The smart play is to make peace and friend with everybody. Instead Trump wants to be treated like an emperor and wants everybody to come and kiss his ass, sorry, his ring. Compare again to how Hillary is playing it. She’s been courting Bernie voters for weeks already and gone out of her way to say, she doesn’t want Bernie to quit (she REALLY wants Bernie to quit) and that she will find ways to work with him blah-blah-blah. Hillary understands fully what is at stake. Trump is being the baby-man continuing with his gripes and holding grudges. I haven’t heard a recent Trump stump speech now in his Trump 3.0 restart, but when he relaunched into Trump 2.0 a few weeks ago, I listened to a whole stump speech and was flabbergastered that Trump still brings up his fights with Jeb Bush. That is so ridiculously counter-productive and massively moronic. Trump is BEHIND in the polling. He NEEDS to unify his party. Why on earth would he continue to anger Jeb supporters. Jeb dropped out months ago. Moron.
Then briefly on the tax return. AGAIN, an unforced error. Why dig yourself deeper into a hole? Clearly any mildly intelligent person can see, Trump is hiding something. Now it makes everybody want to see what it is he is hiding, and it gives us plenty of reason to speculate and suspect the worst. My guess? He is nearly broke, he has huge debts, he is claiming tax deductions on the interest he is paying and his is paralyzed with fear that his is revealed. Because his CREDITORS don’t know. If Trump really was as rich as he claims, he would be flaunting 20 years of his tax returns.
Now, will he be forced to release them? No. Will he get under enormous pressure to do so? Yes. Remember Romney - a far smarter man than Trump - totally determined that he would not release his tax returns - but he ended up folding. I think Trump will not be able to take the pressure once the media decide its the thing they want from him (and possibly Hillary needles him about it at the first TV debate). And whatever it is, it will be embarrassing. But also, he could go and simply never release. If that happens, the tax returns do hold some really really nasty secret(s) that simply Trump cannot let be revealed. But this is yet another factor that will play badly against him. Hillary will show that she released hers. And wait until Obama weighs in - Obama will ridicule Trump for forcing Obama to show his birth certificate. And the Anti-Trump SuperPAC will of course run the video where Trump said Romney HAS to show his tax return - and then the one where Romney says that not showing his tax return disqualifies Trump from being President. Yeah, it will be yet another episode in Negative TV Ads Theater.
Now do you remember the Swift Boat attack ads? This was the W Bush vs John Kerry election of 2004 and Kerry was the war hero from Vietnam while W Bush was hiding in America when his daddy then Governor of Texas arranged for a safe military posting in the Texas air national guard so W Bush didn’t have to go fight in Vietnam. So W Bush was the war-coward while Kerry fought heroically and was decorated in Vietnam. So what did the sleaziest campaign ad on TV to run up to that point do? The W Bush campaign created a fake story about Kerry’s supposed servicemen telling lies straight to camera about how he was no hero. The term became known as ‘swift boating’ when you run TV ads near the end of the race with blatant lies but too late for any fact-checkers to correct them or for the ads to be pulled.
Ever wonder what happened to those guys? Well, a certain Mr Donald Trump has found them and they are now running an anti-Hillary SuperPAC named Rape PAC in which they are producing lies about Hillary supposedly torturing or threatening victims of Bill Clintons ‘rapes’ so to make them even more damaged victims. Hillary being some sadistic torturer of the victims of supposed rape by Bill Clinton. Isn’t that a pretty picture. Yeah, this will be the most nasty and vile negative ad season ever seen on US TV. Thats yes, being produced by the same nice folks who did the original Swift Boat ads of blatant lies against a genuine war hero, so the war-coward could win the election instead. Nice job if you can get it.
Will these damage Hillary? I think its a safe bet they will. It will be using the very best acquired knowhow of how to destroy someone. If Hillary’s strength is women, then turn her into a monster who is cruel to women - to women who were victims of her horrible raping husband. Nice storyline yes. Similar to how a war hero was actually a monster. So yeah, I think this will help drive Hillary’s negatives up somewhat. But mostly, it will reinforce the hatred of her (and Bill) among hard-core Republicans. I do think the Hillary campaign is totally prepared for this gambit. John Kerry was taken totally by surprise. Hillary will have a rapid response plan ranging from immediate total and massive condemnation of the ads, to a team of attorneys to hit all the TV stations to insist that ad must be taken down. Also the TV stations themselves are nowadays far more astute about clearly deceptive ads (a Koch Brothers ad just a few weeks ago was fully paid-up and then all local TV stations pulled the ad - they had been paid - but the ad was found to be clearly false and not played).
Will Trump play dirty? I think its a safe bet to say his will be the dirtiest campaign ever to run. Will Hillary respond, yes but her SuperPAC will do the most nasty counter-attacks. She will have more money to fight back and the big difference is, that anything Trump throws at Hillary, has already been heard and seen. Benghazi, emailgate, Bill’s infidelity etc. So most who will take it in, are those who hate her already, and it will only reinforce their feelings. The Democrats will see it as unfair attacks and rally around her, but Independents - mostly but not all - will see it as old stuff already litigated and not relevant to change their minds.
Now contrast that with Trump. Trump is the most hated politician of either party ever to be the nominee. The most hated on either side, as far back as there has been public polling. This is based ONLY on the attacks by REPUBLICANS. Those attacks were meek, and modest, and came late, and not coordinated, on only a few random topics. Hillary’s attacks will be meticulously planned - and tested. They will be the most damaging attacks for the GENERAL election. For example Trump University - a fraud by Trump. To steal students’ money. Trump finance, a fraud. Trump’s four bankruptcies - to defraud his investors. Trump and the labor unions, how often he has fought with them and how often he’s brought in FOREIGN labor to cut wages and steal jobs from American workers. Mitt Romney was fatally wounded when his business record was attacked. But Romney will seem like a Catholic Charity compared to what all Trump does regularly. Like he says, he loves debt. Then he goes bankrupt - four times. He is so untrustworthy his hotel in Las Vegas is not allowed to operate a Casino. And Trump is probably the only Casino owner in history to be so inept at it, to get his Casino (in Atlantic City) to go bankrupt...
Yeah. both sides will run nasty attack ads. The pain Trump can do to Hillary will be significant but mostly only making those who hate her, hate her more. It will not convert many. Hillary’s attacks on Trump will be deep wounds, cutting into his current supporters to demoralize them, and to cut into independents to not vote for him. Trump may end this election with the lowest approval rating of any person ever measured in polling history. Lower than Richard Nixon on his resignation etc.
Now what Hillary will be able to do, what Trump cannot - is to collect just about the who’s who of Republican leaders - to say that Trump is incompetent or a bad person. Trump can yes, have a Swift Boat type ad of lies by some actors. But there isn’t any videotape of Obama calling Hillary incompetent or stupid. Or of Al Gore or John Kerry or, haha, Bill Clinton. But EVERYBODY that a Republican or Independent voter would identify on the Republican side has been saying something nasty about Trump in the past 11 months. Everybody, not just Trump’s direct political rivals. And they’ve called him names nobody on the Republican side has EVER called a fellow Republican. Like calling him their Mussolini, or Lucifer in the flesh etc. And Trump himself - moron - when he was compared to Hitler, he said he doesn’t mind! Or that he admires Putin etc. So again the attack ad writes itself, and its all there in videotape. For an epic collection of the worst of Trump, either by he himself saying things to make him unelectable, or his own peers saying he is not electable.
Trump’s loyal supporters won’t care. Maybe as much as 40% of the electorate will vote for Trump regardless of all that. But 60% of the electorate will hate Trump so much, that no matter what they think of Hillary, they will not vote for Trump. And Hillary wins by 60 to 40. A 20 point landslide in the scale of Mondale’s loss or McGovern’s.
RUST BELT STRATEGY
Then we have seen first suggestions of Trump's radical plan of how he would win this November. The classic political calculation by all who KNOW the system, says you have to win in the middle. Your own side will vote for you anyway. A Republican will win Alabama and a Democrat will win Connecticut, those are not worth fighting for on either side. A registered Republican will vote for the Republican candidate, and a registered Democrat will vote for the Democrat. Yes, its possible to 'activate' those of your own party who are not bothering to go to vote, but there are not enough of those by any practical math, compared to what is in the middle. The number of registered voters who identify themselves as Independent (or not affiliated with either party) is larger than the voters of EITHER party. Its roughly speaking 31% Republicans, 33% Democrats and 36% Independents. The way to win, all sensible experts in politics say so - is to win in the middle. What does our brillant Trump say, who doesn't pay consultants to help his campaign and who is so smart, he only talks to himself... he thinks he can win in the rust belt. So rather than the usual about 10 or 12 states spread across America where voters are nearly-evenly divided, like Florida, Virginia, Ohio, Iowa, Colorado, New Hampshire and Nevada - states with VERY differing electorates and locally relevant issues that matter - Trump wants to fight for the 'rust belt'. The part of the USA that once was the heart of steel and coal country, where once there was booming industry in the 1950s and 1960s but which 'became rusted' as the steel jobs shifted to Asia and industry became more white collar and IT tech driven more on the coasts.
The voters in the rust belt did go for Reagan in 1980 and 1984, and that is where many of the 'Reagan Democrats' were found, voters who were employed but in blue-collar jobs, often unionized jobs, and in states with highly white populations. And those had voted reliably Democratic for many election cycles but with the economic disaster during the Carter years, these voters shifted to Reagan's message. Its a kind of echo to the 'Make America Great Again' thinking Trump likes (even that slogan was stolen from Reagan who said 'Lets Make America Great Again'). Now in practical matters, those white-collar rust belt industry workers who voted for Reagan are almost all long gone and buried. There is not a meaningful slice of them left. But even for the ones who are, their proportion is accurately captured by polling in those rust belt states.
So we know Hillary will play well in the South in states that have large Hispanic (and/or black) voter populations. If Trump were to abandon say Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and possibly Florida even, and concentrate on the NorthEast, he would have to win Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin of the more classic battleground states (Republicans strongly favored in Indiana, Democrats strongly favored in Wisconsin). But then Trump would have to add several other rust belt states that have voted very reliably Democeratic in past elections - Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Jersey at least. And in those states, for Trump's radical strategy to have any chance, he would now have to be about even or ahead of Hillary - similar to how Hillary is already slightly ahead of Trump in Arizona on the Hispanic South strategy she has. But look at the polling. Even in Ohio Trump is behind (slightly). In Pennsylvania Hillary leads by 7 points or so. That is almost impossible for Trump to win, and in Michigan and New Jersey he is behind well into double digits. That rust belt strategy has been tried by the successors to Reagan and it has never again worked. If it WAS working, by now Trump would be very close or tied, or even slightly ahead of Hillary in those rust belt states. The only state Trump may win of those is Indiana (a state Obama lost in 2012 but won in 2008).
When it was a white businessman Romney against a black college-prof politician Obama, who was not seen as a close friend to labor, even then most of these rust belt states went against the Republican by about 10 points. Now we get a con-artist businessman full of fraud and broken promises, who has repeatedly screwed labor in his past, including bringing in foreign workers to replace US jobs. And we have on the Democratic side one of the closest friends to labor and an older white woman - it won't be a contest. Pennsylvania will stay blue, if PA stays blue, the rust belt strategy is dead because Michigan and New Jersey are far more blue than PA. Ohio is likely to end up in Hillary's column too and Wisconsin won't be in play. (Excepting for the VP choice by Trump which might make any one state become competitive)
BIG DATA OR NO DATA
And one more but this is a big one. I wrote in my original piece about Hillary’s upcoming landslide victory looking 2 years into the future, back in 2014, that Hillary had Team Obama’s ‘Narwhal’ system and because of that, she had another election advantage. Then a few days later, when the 2014 midterm elections came and went, and the Democrats got crushed, I returned to the Hillary prediction and changed one item - clearly stating this in the blog, leaving the original text - that evidence from the then-just-finished 2014 midterm elections suggested that the Big Data advantage that Democrats had in 2012, had been removed by Republicans, whose own Big Data system must have caught up to the Democrats. And generally speaking I still think so today, that the ‘arms race’ in Big Data no longer gave a strategic advantage to the Democrats on a systematic basis. And in my March 2016 update to the race, the Hillary vs Trump preview, I don’t give Hillary any advantage out of this. That is now changing.
So we know Jeb Bush, Scott Walker and Ted Cruz all spent countless millions building their Big Data operations as did Hillary these past 11 months or so, until Jeb, Walker and Cruz obviously quit their race. There was some gossip that Trump had also a modest data project but mostly renting the GOP mailing list and not much more than that. He had a few data specialists and one left (resigned or was fired) without revealing some passwords and at least for a while what little data project they had, they could not even use.
Now we hear from Trump that he doesn’t believe in data use for elections. That he thinks Obama’s project was overhyped. And he doesn’t intend to spend on a data project. How brilliant is that (for those hoping he suffers the worst election loss ever measured). The power of Narwhal was not only experienced, it was measured. Not just discussed by Democrats, REPUBLICANS said it was a key element in why Romney lost and in their autopsy, the Republicans needed a big ramp-up in their own data projects to catch up to the Democrats. Yeah, now Mr Big Brain who doesn’t need advisors because he’s so smart - he TALKS TO HIMSELF haha - he knows better, sure.
Trump had a modest data project. It was probably sabotaged by the disgruntled fired/resigned data boss who left. It means Trump hadn’t been able to extract from the system what was initially promised and the replacement people were so junior, they couldn’t hope to rebuild a replacement either. At least not anything nearly as robust and not rapidly. Trump could take the advice of data specialists, and throw literally dozens of millions at this and hope it works maybe some day and delivers something very nebulous and nerdy. Or he could just do a Trump executive decision - we will campaign the old fashioned way, we make America Great Again and we don’t need data for that. Yeah. Good luck with that.
Now what I crossed out of that blog in 2014, returns to be in play. We DO know that Hillary inherited the Narwhal system from Obama and many of its key data specialists. We know she’s spent dozens of millions of dollars already upgrading and expanding and modernizing it. The power of Narwhal is ENORMOUS. I calculated here on this blog that Narwhal accounted for 4% out of the 5% of Obama’s margin of victory in 2012. What should have been a nail-biter 1% win for Obama was a safe big election drubbing worth 5 points instead. Because of .. Narwhal. That was against Romney who DID have their own, but much more modest and less robust system called Orca (which also did help Romney target his voting-day campaigning but less efficiently because the system kept crashing).
So Trump is behaving as if he was in open-heart surgery, and awake, and starting to give instructions to the world-famous heart surgeon on what he, Trump ‘I am so smart’ businessman thinks the doctor should RATHER do than what the doctor knows to do. Idiot. But good for those of us who hope Trump will have an epic fail. I can’t believe that the Republicans are really going to give the Democrats a third consecutive Presidential election where they abandon the data wars and let the Democrats win. If the election was say 56 - 44 for Hillary on all other things, and then for election day we toss in Narwhal 2.0 from Hillary’s team, the election goes to 60-40. Thats what it means if one side has a modern well-designed and tested, fully-functional Big Data operation - and the other side doesn’t. Its a bloodbath. We measured this effect and saw how devastating it is - but I thought - and all signs up to now confirmed it - that the Republicans understood this and were building their rival. But not Trump. He’s too much the cheapskate and he doesn’t believe in data. He is the perfect Republican like that, the new Know-Nothing Party. Refusing to accept science or facts or numbers or data.
NO POLLING VS BEST POLLING
Trump ran his campaign on the cheap. He didn’t hire an internal pollster and ran no internal polling. He relied on public polling which he then scrutinized deeply and Tweeted about his latest polls nightly. Trump would cheer any poll that had him ahead, and if the same pollster a few weeks later had him behind, he would call the pollsters unreliable. But as we’ve seen, an individual poll can be significantly off. And polling accuracy increases with polling sample size. A larger poll has statistically-speaking less error. But almost all those polls are national polls and only when the primaries got close, would any given contest get some local polls in any reasonable number to give a reasonably accurate aggregation of the recent polling. Real Clear Politics and some other sites would aggregate those multiple polls to give a reasonably good view - in general. Not anywhere near to the precision and detail that any major candidate’s own pollsters could get.
Internal polling is like radar for an airplane or ship. Yes you can navigate without radar, but the one who has radar can do it FAR more precisely. And then its a question of resources and scale. The Big Data operation created by Obama for 2012, had a daily national polling sample so huge, they interviewed 10,000 people in EVERY battleground state every single day! The best deepest most thorough public polling in the current cycle is the Reuters daily tracking poll, which does 300 interviews NATIONALLY every day (most other polls only interview 1,000 people once per MONTH). In 2012 Obama’s did 10,000 daily interviews every battleground state, every day. 100,000 interviews every day. There is no contest between who is more accurate. Its like throwing a stone at a bear, or shooting it with a rifle at the same distance. The stone may hit the bear or be a near-miss. The rifle shot will kill the bear.
So Trump doesn’t want to do polling. I think he will evolve on this and eventually be driven by internal polling like any sensible modern campaign. But he has no hope whatsoever to build a rival to what Hillary already has. She gets a national daily interview sample in each of the 13 battleground states of 10,000 people to know EXACTLY what they think or don’t think about anything. They can test on those people what messages work on given voter segments - Hillary supporters, Trump supporters or undecided voters - and THEN do the most beneficial political activity that given issue can require. Like sending candidate Hillary Clinton to campaign in Ohio, even though Ohio primary is long gone. Where Trump’s team cannot tell where to send Trump instead of West Virginia today.
Is this a myth like Trump suggests or is this reality? We WITNESSED the power of Hillary’s new machine. We heard more than a MONTH ago, what were Team Hillary’s target states. I expressed considerable surprise and some admiration, that the campaign had said openly they target Arizona, Georgia, Missouri and Indiana, in addition to the traditional battleground states from Obama 2012. Some of those states were ‘easy guesses’ like Indiana and Missouri. Obama won Indiana and Missouri was closely lost in 2008. But Arizona and Georgia were nowhere near close even in 2008 far less 2012. We NOW know when Real Clear Politics has calculated its odds, and declares yes these four states are now battleground states. We - the general public (and Trump’s team) only now know that Arizona, Georgia, Indiana and Missouri are in play (and that Arizona is already leaning to Hillary). But Hillary’s team - powered by that powerful Big Data machine, which has the world’s widest consumer opinion panel as its engine - knew more than a month ago, that these - and exactly only these - states WERE (currently) in play.
Imagine the POWER of that insight, if there are 6 months left. That is all the time there is. And one side has a ‘crystal ball’ that sees one MONTH into the future. When six months from now it all ends. You could say for a Billion-dollar race, that insight is worth 167 million dollars...... its only one tiny PART of what the Big Data does for the Hillary team. In 2012 Romney was desperately rush-building its rival system, Orca to try to claw back the advantage Obama had achieved. Today Trump tells us, he doesn’t believe in data. Ok, he probably does’t believe in global warming either, or that cigarettes cause cancer or that gravity exists..
Team Trump is like a sailor navigating in the fog, very cautiously - and slowly. Hillary’s is like a modern commander of a warship who has very accurate radar to guide his craft swiftly to exactly where it wants to be, through that very same fog. Trump may delude himself that data is not useful or necessary. He will crash even more badly if this is how he also runs his campaign. His professionals within his team will be working overtime that the single most important thing they can no invest in - is internal polling. If Trump is the team with less money, they can not afford to spend it foolishly. They NEED maximum precision if they are the underdog in total funding.
SIX GAME-CHANGER MOMENTS LEFT
There are now only six major events left, that can move a politician's chances by 5 points or more. There are only six such events scheduled. Its the VP choice by Trump, its the Republican Convention, after those come Hillary's choice of VP and then the Democratic Convention. These all will be over by the end of July. After that there are only 2 more events that can change the race, its the two debates between the Presidential nominees. Even the VP debate won't be that meaningful. We know now where the race stands. Hillary is somewhere in a 5 point to 10 point lead over Trump which is more than Obama ahead of McCain at this time in 2008 and far more than the race between Romney and Obama of 2012 at this point in time. Yes, something can happen, as they say, a week is a long time in politics. But those will be mostly noise on the fringes. The big picture is now set. Trump is headed to an epic loss.
One of the last possible elements still having a potential game-changing power is the economy. If the economy turns sour, goes into a recession, that would hurt the incumbent party ie Hillary would suffer as this is now ‘Obama’s economy’ and she has been hugging him very closely. The economy might still go bad. But as I’ve written before, the economy goes in cycles, a recession is coming but we don’t know exactly when. The electorate tends to ‘feel’ the ups and downs of the real economy by a 6 month lag. So what the economy is now in May, is what the voters will feel like in November. Not what the economy will be like in October, just before they are voting. And while the recovery has been moving very slowly, it has kept improving. Unemployment is at 5% and wages have started to increase, finally, and we have had a US record for continuous economic growth. The last quarter ending March was just barely above 0%, at 0.5% growth in the GDP but that is still technically growth and now, we start to get the effects of the summer economy. Almost all years see the economy pick up in the summer months with new housing construction adding a boost to the economy, and that means more spending etc. And just now the new retail sales report came out at VERY strong retail growth.
The economy could still turn. Its getting late for that. Meanwhile, some others of those Known Unknowns and Unknown Unknowns will strike still. If the incumbent President has poor favorability, it hurts him or his successor. Obama has risen above water in his favorability (as I predicted, he is a ‘fourth quarter’ type of basketball player, he ups his game in the end) and he will likely finish strong. The world is likely to throw some international problems of foreign policy - I expect a stunt by Putin to be run well before the election. But that again would help Hillary not Trump. Maybe a terrorist attack might help Trump, but other than that, I think the known unknowns seem to be falling all in line for Hillary and most of the obvious unknown unknowns are likely to benefit her more than him. Maybe there will be a city-destroying asteroid that crashes to earth, or a massive earthquake hits California or a huge hurricane swamps say Florida, who knows what then that kind of event would do for the race. But as it now stands, this is a 20 point race for the lady.
THE MOSTEST AGAINST THE LEASTEST
This is a peculiar election year. At the same time on one side we have one of the most competent candidates who is also a very capable politician running a very smootly-running, remarkably well managed campaign. And she has done the most preparation for the actual run than probably any other candidate in modern times. Against Hillary we find Trump, the least competent candidate who ran a random campaign with essentially noviced in charge stumbling from one error to the next. And of any recent candidate one month before that party’s Convention, none have been less prepared than Trump is today. If the fundamentals of the election, the demographics, the Electoral College, the fund-raising etc all favor Hillary; this historic disparity between the two is a dimension not ever tested before. It cannot make Trump a more formidable opponent. But being so far behind, it does allow Trump to take enormous risks and make ‘Hail Mary pass’ type of gambles, to try to narrow the gap. It does introduce an unusual level of uncertainty to the race and that is probably the biggest fear on the Democratic side. That Trump has been and will continue to be so unpredictable.
Modern voting in US elections is however, increasingly done in advance. It is very much in Hillary’s and the Democrats’ best interest to push early voting to their supporters, to ‘bank’ the vote while she is ahead in the polls, to diminish any risks of any last-minute gamble by Trump. We also have seen in this year’s cycle that when the races were competitive, mostly Trump finished weakly - those who decided in the last days tended to break away from Trump. Meanwhile Hillary tended to finish strong - those deciding in the last days would tend to break in her favor. The more there is negative campaigning to come (there will be a record level of it) and where most likely its so, that most negative ads about Hillary repeat old issues but many ads about Trump introduce his shortcomings that are fresh and new to most voters, that should further depress Trump’s vote within the last days of the election. I think the signs are very clear that its a big election loss for Trump. Hillary will be winning with something in the 20 point range, so this election is likely to be as bad for the Republicans as McGovern vs Nixon and Mondale vs Reagan were for Democrats. With a 20 point catastrophic drubbing the Senate will flip as will the House. As I have written before, the Supreme Court will also flip its balance from conservative to liberal either during Obama’s last months or in Hillary’s first.
So for Hillary’s first 2 years at least, she will have a Democratic Senate, a Democratic House and a liberal-leaning Supreme Court. Because both the Senate and House will be flipping on the coat-tails of Hillary’s massive landslide victory, there will be no doubt about who is in charge in Washington, DC. The House and Senate Democrats will obediently follow Hillary’s agenda to the letter. And she has already signalled a highly populist agenda - which will help make that administation popular - and she will also work to remove the election imbalance factors such as Citizens United and various voter-suppression initiatives reently enacted by Republicans.
The question then becomes for the Republicans, will they learn this time - the very same lessons they were supposed to learn from Mitt Romney’s loss last time. The party is lost and Trump is a clear symptom of the sickness that the party is suffering through right now. Can that party start to return to sensible realistic practical governing - when all of its national representation will be in the minority or will it continue to try to block everything. Sooner or later the Republicans have to grow up and get over their Tea Party-driven delusions. But the 2016 down-ticket elections will tend to remove most vulnerable Republicans - ie those in swing states and swing districts who tend to be the most moderate Republicans. That means that the remaining Republican party in Congress will be distilled to be even more potently Tea Party flavor. Then it means, most likely, that they will continue their tomfoolery. As to 2020, with Trump losing in epic manner now, the next time the ‘very conservative’ wing(s) of the party can insist its time to run someone truly conservative (like say Ted Cruz). Because clearly in 2016 (after his pivot towards moderation for the general election) Trump was not a true conservative. That means, very likely, that the Republican party will nominate a very deeply conservative candidate (Ted Cruz) and that candidate will go down in another epic total catastrophic loss to the incumbent sitting President Hillary Clinton. This means Hillary is almost certain to get 8 years and will also mean that before her second term is done, she probably has been able to flip another conservative Supreme Court justice bringing the balance to 6-3 rather than 5-4. Plus she’ll probably be able to replace several of the older liberal Justices with more liberal younger ones.
As to Republicans, they won’t be able to start to win in national elections until they grow out of the Tea Party and ‘know-nothing party’ obsessions. Once they return to sensible rational governing, they can once again start to contest for national offices. Locally, in many red states, they can continue to hold most offices but recently their governing there too has not been particularly successful. We may be seeing some surprising take-overs of local governments by Democrats on Hillary’s coat-tails and in subsequent years as the systematic imbalances in the elections favoring Republicans are diminished if not removed.
So this was the end of the ‘golden age’ for Republicans. Now its going to be many years in the wilderness. They will tend to pin this on Trump but one could say it traces at least back to John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin. Arguably it goes back further to the level of stupid behavior by W Bush and in some ways his father, Daddy Bush got the ball rolling when he picked Dan Quayle as his VP. From that point onwards, the two parties have pursued opposite ends of the electorate. The Democrats have tried to appeal to facts, data, rational thinking and logic. Not always successfully but clearly its been their mission to be the smart party (see for example climate change). And at the same time, the Repulicans have pursued a path towards the ‘Stupid Party’ as Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal called his own party. That has to end and this Trump misadventure would be a good point to admit, that is a losing strategy. But nobody will admit there is any problem until Trump loses by 20 points. So before any ‘recovery’ or healing can happen, the damage has to be experienced first. So this November will be a good thing, in the end, both for the Republicans and for the USA. They need two strong, sensible, reasonable parties. Not one adult and one childish party.