US Elections – Don’t Count Trump Out

hillary_clintonThough Hillary Clinton is today rated an 82.8% chance to win the US Presidency, it isn’t over until it’s over.  Though Donald Trump has shown himself unfit for office time and again, key supporters are deserting him daily, and his Party are thinking about doing the same thing, there are four weeks to go.

I strongly expect Hillary to win, because she is the best candidate who could and she’s way ahead, but she has vulnerabilities which can change the dynamic of the last four weeks:

Voting is voluntary.

For many reasons, most of them illegitimate but nonetheless felt and believed, plenty of Democratic voters are lukewarm about her.  If they don’t feel enthused enough to turn out to vote, there are states where she’s in trouble.

In the eyes of  many of Hillary’s supporters, Trump is so awful they may feel more motivated to vote, but what I observe is a feeling he’s so awful he can’t possibly win – “I mean no-one’s actually going to vote for him are they, so why should I bother to go and vote for Hillary?” – so they don’t need to bother.

And while Hillary’s remains to be tested, Barack Obama’s Get-Out-The-Vote machine was the best the US has ever seen: if Hillary can’t match it, can she get a big enough turnout to win?

Hillary can make mistakes.

Describing half of Trump’s supporters as “deplorables” was disgusting, wrong and a campaign disaster.  It wasn’t off-the-cuff, it was scripted.  A campaign that so misunderstands how to campaign as to do that, can make more, big, mistakes … but they might have learned from that one.

Hillary can believe the wrong thing.trump

She might truly believe half of Trump’s supporters are “deplorables”, which says she’s disconnected from the real world.  Research done independently on those who are voting from Trump says that in many cases they are people for whom the system isn’t delivering, for whom the American Dream is a nightmare.

They aren’t voting for Trump en masse because they all want to sow division and bile and hate as he does, they’re voting for a guy who they think will wreck the system that has lied to them, failed them, and failed their communities.  A campaign so off target about their opponent’s supporters has little chance of prising any of them off.

And, if you are that mistaken about why your opponent has supporters, you’re hardly likely to be focussed on addressing their issues – and powerlessness, imposed change, inequality, and unfairness are at the heart of the US failing to deliver for an enormous proportion of its citizens.

Hillary can say the wrong thing.

Describing half of Trump’s supporters as “deplorables” was a stupid thing to say, even if she actually believes it.  There are at least four things wrong with it.

First, you’ll never get people to change their opinions and support yours by abusing them, or authorising others so to do, as she did.  You only lock them in to opposing you forever – beyond just one election – and sow further seeds of division in a system already rife with intractability.

Second, the meta-message you send when you describe people as “deplorables” is that you think you are superior to them, which plays into the “aloof and elitist and not one of us” picture of Hillary and insider Democrats, which Republicans have so assiduously used to take working class votes away from Democratic Party candidates.

Third, it wastes valuable airtime and distracts your campaign from more important messages.  Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s recent discussion of Pauline Hanson and her One Nation Party were heading down a much smarter road.

Fourth, it makes campaign workers and down-ticket candidates think that’s the message they should be sending, which locks them into maximising the first two bad outcomes.

She won’t say “deplorables” again, and she’s sorry ever she did, but four weeks of draining campaigning is a long time for a campaign which has shown itself capable of such an error to make no more biggies.

The Russians are coming.  And Wikileaks.

They’ve both got more files and more emails to leak.  They both seem to want Hillary to lose, though I imagine the Russians might back off in exchange for a less aggressive Foreign Policy posture from Hillary.  The harmfulness to her campaign of what’s been leaked so far seems relatively inconsequential, but these leaks might be more important for the signal they send of how deeply they’ve both seen into her secrets – sending a message about what might yet be released.  Not knowing what they’ve got and when it might be released means we have to be open to the prospect that future leaks might significantly harm Hillary’s chances … and that she’s expecting it.

(Half of the Ethical Consulting Services team – that would be Mike – will be embedded within the US Presidential campaign, from mid-October: this year, US election day is 8 November.)

 

 

About Mike Smith

Partner in Ethical Consulting Services: www.ethicalconsulting.com; sometime University lecturer; previously Government Relations consultant; before that Labor Party State Secretary in Northern Territory; union advocate with LHMU/United Voice in NT and NSW; hobby – election campaigns!

Posted on October 11, 2016, in campaigning, Culture, Culture change, Election, Leadership, Policy, Political tactics, Politics, Strategy, Voting and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: