The pundits say: Trump is imploding, Democrats are gleeful, and Republicans are in panic mode. I hate to throw cold water on those rosy / dire predictions but over-confidence can have very negative consequences. If you want a Democrat in the White House next year be wary and focused.
In Part 1 of this two-parter I said this election cycle most brings to mind 1980. I’m not predicting a similar outcome, but I am concerned. (For young people, in 1980 President Jimmy Carter ran against former California governor Ronald Reagan in the general election.) And I’m still focused on 1980!
Donald J. Trump and Ronald Reagan differ in important ways: Mr. Reagan had been a two- term governor, with a calm and charming demeanor. That said, Lefties and many moderates saw Mr. Reagan as a Right Wing, dangerous and comical fringe candidate, elected in wacky California. (California was much more conservative 50 years ago.) As the Republican nominee he made Democrats euphoric, and frightened many Republicans. Sound familiar? (He upset so many people that Reagan primary rival Representative John Anderson (R-Ill.) ran as an Independent in the general election.)
On the D side, President Carter had very low favorability ratings; so unpopular was he that Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) challenged him for the nomination. President Carter prevailed, but there was never a mending between the two.
Here are some Carter-Reagan facts in head-to-head polling:
Note: Mr. Reagan didn’t poll at or above 40% until October, only one month before election.
The June 21 CNN poll showed Hillary Clinton ahead by 5% nationally; Quinnipiac had dead heats in Ohio and Pennsylvania, with Ms. Clinton up by 8% in Florida.
Ever watch a basketball game where one team had a disastrous start? Seven missed shots to start the game, two missed free throws, and six turnovers. The score is 8-0, and with two 3-pointers in 30 seconds after the inevitable timeout, the score is 8-6. After what Mr. Trump has said and done in the past few weeks, you’d think his numbers would be far lower. There are things to consider and the race is not over.
Ms. Clinton’s negatives are still high. She still lags behind Mr. Trump on trustworthiness. Mr. Trump is rated higher on managing the economy. And his campaign finance and organizational deficits did not hurt him in the primaries. Pundits all said that they would hurt him; they were wrong.
The Trump campaign—a PR-based national campaign that does not rely on local organizing—is a new model which has never been tested. The talking heads were just as adamant that his campaign would collapse—as he kept winning and rivals dropped out—as they are today. That all said, the fact that he operates with 10% of the staff Clinton has may be a PR coup for Mr. Trump, advancing his narrative that he’s authentic. And, not only did he beat his rivals, he whooped them and also humiliated the establishment. Recall that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan—third in line to be POTUS—withheld his endorsement, attempting to influence and moderate Mr. Trump. The rants got louder, and Speaker Ryan said “You’re my guy!” People who hate the establishment love that!
But Ms. Clinton has many more positives than negatives. The Trump trend lines are definitely down. As an old stockbroker, trends really matter. Mr. Trump’s primary rivals, to avoid upsetting his rabid supporters, did not define him. Ms. Clinton and her people have no such concerns. The Trump campaign will re-hash all of the old attacks we’ve been hearing about for what seems like forever, and people will learn things about Mr. Trump and his organization they never knew.
Despite the fact that Mr. Trump’s base voters love him unconditionally, many Republican voters like him a lot less. As a result, there is an enthusiasm gap between the parties that indicates more Republicans might be willing to sit out or vote 3rd party than Democrats. This can make a big difference down ballot too!
I truly believe the Sanders phenomenon has exaggerated Ms. Clinton’s negatives. (Often, people feel compelled to dislike their favorite candidate’s opponent). The fading of Senator Bernie Sanders will eventually bring down Ms. Clinton’s negatives and inflate her match-up numbers against Mr. Trump, as Left-leaning Democrats are faced with the fear of a Trump victory. That’s why it’s important to not be over-confident, leaving Sanders voters comfortable voting Libertarian, Green, or not at all.
So? Don’t be overconfident, persuade friends to vote, and be nice to Bernie voters. This ought to end well; however, passivity or riding on high horses might leave us all in a bad place.
Late news: Brexit approval is an enormous example of how the establishment has underestimated the populist / nationalist / anti-globalist fervor worldwide. Mr. Trump represents that view in America; underestimate that appeal at your peril!