August 28, 2016

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.

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