Sunday, September 4, 2016

Home stretch advice to candidates - and what we can do about it

Adam Nagourney, LA bureau chief for the NY times, offers advice to both candidates. Scriber opines on what we blokes (and blokettes) on the front line can do to make a difference.

Labor Day weekend has always had a particular resonance in American politics as the official start of the sprint to Election Day, celebrated by rallies, marches and lakeside picnics.

Of course, those days are long gone in this era of the permanent campaign. Donald J. Trump, the Republican, and Hillary Clinton, the Democrat, have been sprinting to Election Day for more than a year now.

Nonetheless, it seems like a good moment to assess what political analysts say the candidates need to do in the final two months if they want to move into the White House in January. And while polls suggest that Mrs. Clinton has a clear advantage over Mr. Trump, the race is hardly over. The unpopularity of both candidates has lent this contest a volatility rarely seen at this stage of a campaign.

I'll expand only on those items on which we common folk might be able to exert influence.

For Donald Trump

  1. Focus, focus, focus

  2. Seize the debates

  3. It's about Clinton

Mrs. Clinton is trying to make this a referendum on Donald Trump, and on many days Mr. Trump seems to be doing his best to help her. Instead, Mr. Trump should turn this into a discussion of Mrs. Clinton. There is a receptive audience for change among voters tired of eight years of Democratic rule and 25 years of the Clinton family.

Rather than spending two weeks wrestling with immigration, Mr. Trump might have been better off talking about the Clinton Foundation, or Mrs. Clinton’s email troubles. Every day. Repetition, repetition, repetition can be boring, especially for someone like Mr. Trump. But that’s the way to win an election.

We can do some repetition of our own talking points. For example, Trump is the only candidate fined by the IRS for illegal campaign finance shenanigans. His own foundation gave $25K to Pam Bondi's PAC and then she dropped the investigation into Trump University. And the foundation apparently covered it up by mis-reporting the donation. There's as wealth of tweets there. He can't take back his disparaging comments about Hispanic immigrants. Nor can he spin away the fact that African-Americans were discriminated against by his apartments. Pound away.

  1. Tone matters

Mr. Trump, analysts from both parties say, needs to resist his more combative instincts and stop doubling down every time he says anything that turns into a firestorm. Every moment now should be about trying to convince voters that he has the temperament and stability to be president. If Mr. Trump can return to that point in the campaign where he seemed funny and even likable, that might serve him well against a candidate like Mrs. Clinton.

We can look to the expert that gets Trump singing "I got you under my skin" - Elizabeth Warren. Pick up some of her lines off of twitter and goad Trump, relentlessly, every day, every minute. And when Trump responds, as is his wont, apply his own strategy against him: amplify our own response ten-fold and goad him again.

For Hillary Clinton

  1. Complacency, complacency, complacency

There may no bigger foe to Mrs. Clinton than the perception that she is breezing toward a victory, reinforced daily by polls showing that she is going to win. This would be a problem for any politician, but it is a particular problem for Mrs. Clinton, given that many of her supporters cannot be described as enthusiastic.

She is in danger of losing the “hold-your-nose” vote, those who might choose to stay at home or cast a protest vote for Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate. This could also be a problem with prospective Clinton supporters who have a history of not turning out, including Latinos, young voters and African-Americans. She is going to need a big turnout among Latinos in particular if she wants to win Nevada, and have any hope of finally doing what [the Obama campaign] attempted in 2012 in Arizona.

What we do is simple. GOTV, GOTV, GOTV.

  1. Trust matters

“Take a risk,” Mr. [Neil] Newhouse said. “For God’s sake, hold a news conference. Disband the Clinton Foundation. They are just too timid. They’re afraid of their own shadow.”

Recognize that this is a Republican pollster talking. I totally disagree with his advice about the Clinton Foundation. But I agree with the need to be more aggressive about its good works. If Clinton can weigh in more strongly, we might have material for our social media efforts.

  1. Seize the debates

  2. Force Trump to spread himself thin

You can expand on each of the numbered titles by reading Nagourney's article.

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