August 28, 2016

Is this Trump playing to his strength?

Let me postulate a theory.  Donald Trump is going to reach out to African Americans.  His words on Democrats taking advantage of a secure voting block are true: Democrats see African Americans as a secure vote and nothing more - at least those running for president or as president.  But he's polling 1% among African Americans in some polls. The likelihood of him changing that to more than 3% is pretty low.  On the surface that doesn't seem to be the best use of his time.  So why do it?

It's true that the GOP needs to be more inclusive because in many communities or demographics that Republicans have ceded to Democrats, there are issues that Republicans can connect with voters on.  That's as true for African Americans as it is for any group.  I've been writing about that since 2008.  But that's the long game.  That doesn't help Trump against Hillary right now (at least not in any polls the public is seeing, so far as I know).  

But Trump's goal in holding those meetings may be broader than getting more support from African Americans in November.  Trump may be able to disaffect some African Americans from supporting Hillary Clinton in addition to the voters he manages to attract.  And it goes even further than that.

Trump may be able to impress non-African Americans - women, Asians, Hispanics and maybe even non-Trump-supporting Republicans with the effort.  And that effect may be twofold. (1) he may create the impression that he is a caring person and capable of a softer tone and reaching out.  That impression can cut across demographics and lift his support more broadly.  (2) What if Trump emerges from some of these meetings with a 'deal'?  If he comes out of them with quotes from the those he met with along the lines of 'a productive meeting', 'common ground' or dare I say it 'agreement' then there could be a truly large boost.

Trump is playing to his strength - deal-making.  Offer the community something different from Democrats have offered for 60 years, and something that benefits them in exchange for some level of amicability if not support and that proves Trump can make deals.

It also offers a lead-in to challenge Hillary at the debates regarding his supposed racism.  He can counter with Democrats' soft racism, their hidden racism.  

All in all, if Trump is thinking in those terms, this is actually a pretty slick move, especially if he can pull it off (AND get visibility of that in the media, which is an entirely different story).

It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

My sense of the presidential race today

It's been a tough month for Trump supporters. The media have been savaging him.  He has made missteps if not outright mistakes on his own.  His poll numbers have sagged.  Republican NeverTrumpers refuse to go away.  His advertising is non-existent aside from various PACs and his state infrastructure is demonstrably weak. Gary Johnson has made headway, despite the fact that he cannot win, and probably most of his growing support comes at the expense of Donald Trump. And it looks like Trump's chances of winning has been quashed.  It's been easier to watch the Olympics or reruns of favorite TV shows, BBQ on weekends and forget all about the bleak future under a Hillary Clinton presidency.

Despite that Trump in recent days looks to have seen a rebound in some of his poll numbers.  He does still have a chance even though his change in direction might be too little too late.

One of the strengths of Trump was supposed to be his business savvy. He was supposed to have this visionary leadership and because of his business skills, he's supposed to have been able to out-manage Hillary in the campaign.  It hasn't happened  - she's got better teams in place in the states.  She's got more money. Why?  Because if Trump is indeed good at business it might be limited to making deals.  That may prove good for a president but in running - there's no room for deal-making, only winning.

Trump's non-negotiating personality is entirely combat-based and it isn't working. Sure, it raised his profile in a crowded primary.  But you cannot win the presidency by insulting everyone who isn't on your side. Trump hasn't been busy endearing himself to various voting groups.

Can you picture Donald Trump kissing a baby?  Perhaps his political inexperience is beginning to show.

What Trump needs to win is going to be a perfect storm: He needs to win the debates convincingly.  He needs to keep his foot out of his month for two months plus.  He needs to connect with at least one voting block that he is being crushed on - African Americans, women or Hispanics.  He doesn't need to win them, just cut hard into the margins he trails by in those demographics.  He needs the WikiLeaks planned October Clinton email releases to contain something truly bad on Clinton, or perhaps the economy to falter badly.  

Some of that is within Trump's control, some isn't but it's looking more like the 8th inning of a ball game where the home team is down 6-2 and wasting at bats with strikeouts.  Trump needs to work on what he can work on - advertising, debates, state organization, getting through to those voting blocks disaffected of him and hope some of the rest pans out in his favor. Seems like a long shot to me.

Don't get me wrong  - I am not despondent, I'm hopeful; I always try to be.   Trump is an imperfect candidate and not my first choice for president, but the alternative is markedly worse. Unfortunately for Trump, with time dwindling, he needs to start making that progress quickly, and he needs to do so using different tactics (and possibly strategy too, but that's an unknown) than he has been using so far. I'm not sure he can switch his tactics as they seem to be an ingrained part of who Trump is.  But Trump has known both seen success and failure.  If anyone can adapt to the landscape, Trump might be the guy.

Oh and as an aside, here's a note to Trump-aligned SuperPACs - don't keep advertising on Fox.  Fox voters have their minds made up for or against Trump relative to viewers on say CNN or CBS. You are not getting the most marginal usage of your dollars.  Any ads on Fox need to focus on get out the vote (GOTV) efforts only.

Sunday verse

August 27, 2016

Saturday Learning Series - Geography (Ecuador)

A lesson in Equatorial geography in Geography Now's disposition on Ecuador.

And the flag story:

August 26, 2016

Hillary Clinton goes paranoid conspiracy theory

Hillary Clinton is no doubt trying to gin up support among her leftist base. by giving a speech on the nefarious, evil, loathsome Alt-Right. But her anti-Alt-Right speech this week is definitely tinfoil hat stuff and she deserves to be disparaged for it. And I don't mean by Donald Trump, but rather everyone else.

Warning - this video contains some strong language.

By the way this is not an endorsement of the Alt- right, which frankly suffers from a myriad of definitions and at this point does not deserve to be condemned or endorsed without attaching a definition to the endorsement or condemnation.  So there.

Friday Musical Interlude - Mull of Kintyre

From 1978, Paul McCartney's Mull of Kintyre with it's beautiful bagpipes.

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