With Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump now the presumptive nominees of their respective political parties, game on! Forget the opening act of primaries; we are now at the main event.
From this point forward, there are likely only two unscripted events to take place. Election night will be unscripted although we may know what the likely outcome will be several days prior to Election Day.
Secondly, the FBI Primary (the decision to charge or seek indictment against Hillary Clinton for the use of her “homebrew” computer server) will not be scripted by either Clinton, Trump or, even, the White House. If Hillary loses the second, she may still win the first. That’s a warning to Republicans.
If there is a third unscripted occurrence, then, it will likely be a game changing mistake. Hillary is the most scripted candidate in history, while Trump is the most unscripted, thus likely mistake to be made by Trump.
How will the two respective campaigns try to script this election?
Most Democrats know Hillary Clinton is a very flawed candidate, and Republicans generally feel the same about Trump. Two very flawed candidates usually results in a very ugly campaign. 2016 will be a race to the bottom or the gutter. Yet, the candidate who can maintain some sense of a positive message in the mist of the negative fireworks will probably be the winner. Clinton is good at message discipline. Trump is not. He better learn quickly.
By large margins, Democrats will vote Clinton and Republicans will vote Trump. Call this the “choir”. Both candidates will preach to their respective choirs in order to insure a high turnout.
This is especially important for Trump. Social research has consistently noted that in highly negative campaign scenarios, Republicans are the first to throw up their hands and say “to hell with it, I am not voting.” If so, Trump will have a turnout problem among country club and suburban Republicans. Yet, the Trump faithful have shown they are not deterred by hard hitting politics and this could mitigate against the normal impact of negative campaigns on the Republican turnout.
Hillary has a different problem. She will have to work hard to be President Obama in order to turnout the Democratic base. While she does, Hillary will leak white votes. It’s a tough balancing act and be certain she will use the historic nature of her candidacy, just like Obama, to help her navigate this tightrope.
So, both candidates will sing to their choirs, but there are slivers of the other party’s vote that will be in play. Trump’s success may very well be decided by his ability to take a
few thousand Democratic blue-collar votes from Hillary in states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan. His point of attack will be things like NAFTA, the Trans Pacific Trade Agreement, coal and economic issues in general.
Conversely, Hillary and the Democrats will be trying to use legalized abortion, social issues and charges of racism to strip Trump of some suburban white Republican women votes in these same states. While pandering may not be Trump’s long suit, this may be the place for him to pander by choosing a woman as his running mate; Senator Ernst from Iowa for instance.
While they will preach to their respective choirs, both Trump and Hillary will be trying to steal a few choir members from the other.
It may shock you but the greatest plurality of voters is not Democrats (32%) or Republicans (23%) but Independents (39 to 42% depending on the research organization). These are the voters who will decide the 2016 presidential election if all goes to script (which is a YUGE assumption in an election year that is totally off script).
Independents are a mixed bunch. They range from libertarian-like, nationalist-like, social liberal like, fiscally conservative to voters who wear tin foil on their heads to restrict the government’s ability to read their minds. Clearly, they are anti-establishment types just by the virtue of not being a Democrat or a Republican.
Some may call them a can of mixed nuts, but far be it from this author to do so. Yet, due to this mixture, it is not easy to, well, pander to Independents. You are or you ain’t as my grandfather used to say.
For the past several weeks, Trump has had a slight lead among these voters, but this could dissipate at any moment. One is likely to find a handful of Bernie voters in this crowd and both Trump and Hillary will be all about winning the Sanders voter to their cause. Because Hillary has been in a tough primary fight with Sanders, she has not been able to corral them, but, now that this fight is all but over, Sanders voters may “come home” to Clinton. This will be one of the major questions in the campaign. These voters may just make the difference in several states.
STATE OF RACE
It is very difficult for any Republican to win nationally. Reality! In this regard, the Electoral College matters meaning winning individual states matter. There are roughly 17 to 19 states Democrats always win amounting to about 230 electoral votes. 270 is needed to win the election so you can see the trouble for Republicans.
The Electoral College means winning individual states matter. This is why a Republican almost must run the table in battleground states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, and put a few in play like Michigan, Wisconsin, and New Hampshire while winning North Carolina and Virginia.
Two weeks ago, Trump had pulled even in the national polls. His momentum has recently been stymied by his incessant desire to attack a judge in a class action lawsuit against Trump University. It is a good thing for him that this has happened early. Trump has squandered his momentum, but it is a long way to Election Day.
This is the beginning. More to come.