Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Campaigns Don't Matter (Except When They Do)

Generally speaking, I hold in low regard the idea that tactical masterstrokes can alter the course of a campaign.  John McCain kept throwing these Hail Mary "game changers" that did nothing but signal his desperation.  Tactically speaking, you can lose a campaign through mistakes much more than you can win one by being shrewd.  Obviously, this is different in a very close election like 2000.

It seems pretty apparent that Clinton is as much trying not to lose as she is to win.  The reason is that Trump is an organizational dumpster fire.  Because he rose outside the usual political avenues, he is disdainful of their efficacy.  The problem with that "logic" is that Trump won less than 50% of the votes of the smaller political party.  His shoot from the hip manner worked in a fractured field of winner take all or most primaries.

The big demographic issues still hold sway.  There are still more Democratic voters than Republican voters.  Both Trump and Clinton motivate the OTHER side in a negative way.  Hard core Republicans may not like Trump, but they loath Clinton.  Same goes for Democrats.

In the middle, where the elections are presumably decided, it pays to use analytics.  It pays to organize field offices.  It pays to line up non-party organizations.

Clinton is already raising more money than Trump.  And she knows not to spend it in North Dakota or New York.  She's going to spend it in Virginia and Colorado, where it will do the most good.  Trump meanwhile is campaigning in both those states.  That's just stupid.

And what's more, Trump's personal style is incompatible with critical self-evaluation.  When the NY Times asked Trump about the tumult in his campaign - including firing Rick Wiley, one of the few people associated with the campaign that knows anything - Trump responded in typical Trumpian fashion:
Asked for comment about his management style, and the current state of his campaign, Mr. Trump declined, criticizing the reporters writing this article.  "You two wouldn't know how to write a good story about me if you tried - dream on."

That is not the voice of a man who can adjust to the constantly changing landscape of the campaign.  That is the voice of a man who only hears his own voice.

Chaos is Trump's medium.  He will bring plenty of it to the campaign.  If the election is close (and I don't think it will be), that chaos could be what costs Trump the presidency and saves this country from a true disaster.

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