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.
- Unlike any President in history, Trump has never once gained a generally favorable rating over 50 percent.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- In terms of voter enthusiasm, it is currently advantage Democrats. That addresses the big turnout issue.
- 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.
- Recently, Trump’s reported fundraising fell behind Biden for the first time. Trump has more money in the bank – but he will need it.
- The Trump campaign has begun to spend money in supposedly red states – which suggests that they see problems beyond the battleground states.
- 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.
- 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.