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You cannot run the same campaign twice – and win

You cannot run the same campaign twice – and win

In my past career, I have been the consultant for several campaigns that won upset victories.  What I learned is that you cannot run the same campaign a second time and expect the same results.  When it comes time for re-election, the candidate has a record – good and bad.  Times have changed.  Issues have changed.  The demographics of the voters have changed.

Candidates who win upset elections too often do not change.  They think that what they said and did in the past would work again.  They come to believe that they are smarter than their advisors and staff.  They fail to realize that their initial victory was a unique set of circumstances and a lot of luck.

I ran the campaign that had an unknown Republican guy named Mike Flanagan defeat Chicago Democrat Congressman Dan Rostenkowski in Chicago – and chairman of the Powerful House Ways and Means Committee.  Imagine that!  Beating the Daley political machine to elect the first Chicago Republican congressman since the early 20th Century.

Flanagan had to move fast to develop a strategy for winning re-election two years later.  Instead, he re-ran his old campaign without me.  He was easily defeated.

It can happen to Democrats, too.  Chicago’s consumer advocate Jane Byrne upset the political machine by defeating incumbent Mayor Michael Bilandic – the handpicked success to Richard J. Daley.  She pretty much ran the same drill – on the same issues – four years later – and lost.

By now, I suspect you know where I am heading.  It looks like President Trump is going to redux his 2016 victory again this year.

In 2016, Trump pulled off one of the biggest upset elections in American history.  Despite losing the popular vote by the widest margin of any candidate who won the presidency, he was able to pull off a political Royal Straight Flush with a three-card draw.

After two years in office, the Democrats and Trump made the midterm election a referendum on the Trump presidency.  For the Democrats, it was a smart move.  For Trump, it was a mistake – and the GOP lost control of the House in a wave election.

That arguably resulted in the most strident and vicious partisan attacks on Trump and his supporters in the history of the nation – endless politically-motivated investigations, an ethically corrupt impeachment and a constant flow of ginned up criticism emanating from the Democrat/media alliance.

Unfair?  Yes!  Effective? Absolutely.

While there is a lot of time between now and Election Day – and anything can happen – the Trump campaign is not looking good.  As a political consultant, it is my job to evaluate the “signs” objectively.  Coaches win games.  Cheerleaders do not.

It is entirely too early to make a flat-out prediction regarding the 2020 election – but the trend lines are not looking good for Trump.  The fact that he did not win the popular vote and lost the midterm elections are significant indicators of trouble ahead.  But there are other ominous signs.

  1. Unlike any President in history, Trump has never once gained a generally favorable rating over 50 percent.
  2. His current standing in the polls is comparable to his lowest point in the 2016 campaign – and it is not at all sure that it has bottomed out.
  3. There has been a significant increase in Democrat voter registration – especially in those all-important battleground states. And remember, he had to win them all – and he did, but some by very slim margins.
  4. Current polls show Trump losing in virtually every battleground state. More troubling is that he is losing by a wide enough margin to discount the usual polling biases.
  5. In terms of voter enthusiasm, it is currently advantage Democrats. That addresses the big turnout issue.
  6. Some polls show a significant number of Trump 2016 voters are not going to vote for him a second time – either voting for Biden, a third-party candidate or staying home. Conversely, the percentage of people who voted against Trump in 2016 – but will vote for him this year – is near zero.
  7. Recently, Trump’s reported fundraising fell behind Biden for the first time. Trump has more money in the bank – but he will need it.
  8. The Trump campaign has begun to spend money in supposedly red states – which suggests that they see problems beyond the battleground states.
  9. The corrupted left-wing media is smelling the blood in the water and their extremely unobjective and hostile reporting is accelerating daily. It is going to be ugly.
  10. Polls show that in terms of issues that matter – those issues upon which people will cast their votes – Democrats have an ethereal advantage. I say “ethereal” because most voters do not like the far left Democrat platform – but, at the moment, they do not like Trump.

As I have said, things can change, but if the election were today, I am convinced Trump would be defeated — and I would not even take a bet on the GOP retaining the Senate.  In a future commentary, I will put on my consultant hat and tell you what I think Trump needs to do to grab victory from the jaws of defeat – again.

So, there ‘tis.


About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.


  1. Mike

    While I agree with most of what you write-Trump is rerunning 2016, I must take issue with your comments on impeachment and other investigations. Trump has run the most corrupt administration since at least the Harding era and has attempted to shield his actions from oversight with varying degrees of success. Look no further than the cabinet members who have resigned in disgrace if you somehow doubt my words. Whistle blowers (and there have been many) have been intimidated by this administration, inspector generals fired for doing their job, and other administration officials fired for pointing out the obvious corrupt activities committed by this regime. And the impeachment-yes it is a crime to ask a foreign leader to dig up dirt on your political opponent-an action that reeks of a banana republic. Only reason he wasn’t convicted the Republican led senate put their heads in the sand, refused to call witnesses and voted (mostly) along party lines not to convict. Trump is his own worst enemy, but the people that voted for him got what they wanted-a fool and a crook in the White House. So there tis…

    • Larry Horist

      Mike, You have bought into the prosecution’s arguments. The impeachment was predicated on political benefits and mostly hearsay … rumors. I cannot think of a President who has not used relationships with foreign leaders to bolster their issues and their campaigns. You must recall Obama’s sending a message to Putin that he would be able to talk and deal differently AFTER his reelection. He was literally asking Putin not to make a fuss that wold hurt him during the campaign. Obama was very soft on Russia to avoid controversy. The Ukraine phone call was a very thin reed upon which to run an impeachment. There was … and is … every reason to fully investigate the Hunter Biden relationship to the corruption in Ukraine. He was in the middle of it — working for one of the major corrupt oligarchs. Bu all historic standards, the Dems abused and weaponized the House oversight responsibility. It was based on testimony from an assemblage of people of which hardly any had any direct information regarding the claims of their testimony. No one associated with Trump campaign and administration was sent to prison for any crimes associated with the campaign, colluding with Russians or even Trump’s past business activities.. It is all about perspective.

  2. Linde Barrera

    Trump is not more corrupt than Biden or other Dems. And he calls out as he sees it, even though I do not think he should Twitter as often as he does because Twitter is a fake platform. Free Speech Forever!

    I look forward to reading Mr. Horist’s “Consultant Hat” article.

  3. RedBull

    The Obama years were the worst years of my life. The health care alone cost me so much money I never had, cost me any vacations I might have hoped for, cost me in ways I can hardly even explain. The business slump from all the restrictions made work a nightmare. Oh God don’t let them take over – all evidence points to it being worse than ever if that happens.

    No vote = Joe vote. Please get out and support our team!

  4. Lowell

    I guess Larry Horist has not learned ANYTHING about polls from the 2016 election. And as a matter of fact President Trump has been running on his record. Sometimes Larry Horist is brilliant, and sometimes he is an idiot. This time it’s the latter!

    MAGA/KAG Trump 2020!!!

    • Larry Horist

      You are talking about a guy who has been involve with polls for more than 50 years. I have studied them, analyzed them, conducted them, written scripts for them, written about them and lectured about them. They are definitely in my wheelhouse of expertise. I take note of the fact that the major polls have a 5 percent bias in favor of Democrats. Lot of reasons for that. If you read my commentary carefully, you will notice that i stressed the wide margins. As bad as polsl are, the are rarely more than 10 percentage points off. Also, I emphasized that it is early and anything can happen. More important will be the polls within the last two weeks of the campaign. While the polls were wrong in 2016, they were not that wrong on the popular vote. They had not considered the electoral vote. The battle ground states were very close — and gave the Dems that 5 point advantage. That is where they missed it. The pundits relying on the polls made their predictions on the assumption that Trump would not win all the close battleground states. But he did. MOre importantly, you cannot just look at 2016 and expect the same to be the case in 2020.

  5. Jeanette Kelley

    I take issue with Mike and people like him. Has our all American President of our’s ever been treated fairly from the beginning of his TERM? NO! He Beat that Lying/rotten
    Creepy Witch Hillary Clinton Fair & Square, but our Leftest
    Propaganda Media/Creepy RINO REPUBLICANS/DEMONCRATS has never given him a fair chance like all other Presidents before him. The most Corrupt Administration since Harding? Please, what about that Anti/American Hating President Obama?? Never a word about
    his corrupt/Anti American Regime! How’s Obama Care working out for all Americans? Who can afford Medical Insurance anymore??

    As far as polls go. how did that work out in the Last Election?
    None of them had it right!!!! God Help us , if that Brain Dead/Dementia Joe Biden get’s elected! He won’t be in charge of anything! The Socialist/Communist People around him will be calling the shots! The DEEP/STATE is alive and
    well, all our Freedoms will be taken from us!

    Is this what you want AMERICA! Welcome to Venezuala if
    the DEOMONCRATS take over!

    God Help us all!

    Pray for our President/Vice President! We need God’s Help
    for sure!

    TRUMP/PENCE 2020

    President Trump has tried to make America Great for ALL
    AMERICAN CITIZENS, regardless of Color or Creed!