The topic of this post is the question every Trump hating power seeking Democratic candidate and spinster wants to know the answer to: how to defeat Trump in 2020. Politicians, pundits and talking heads have analyzed the last presidential election a million ways to Sunday. They were all caught off guard and had a false sense of security in the early and same day polling numbers. Those polls showed Hillary winning by a landslide in every sense of the word. It’s 2019 and some people still can’t accept the results. They don’t understand how it happened and swear the Russians rigged the election results even though there is no evidence of voter fraud on a large scale to be found. Even if you believe Trump colluded with the Russians it still doesn’t change the fact that the voting machines and paper ballots were not hacked. The DNC’s emails, yes! Actual votes being cast, no!
Rather than dwell on the past it’s time for the Democratic Party to focus on the present and the next 17 months. Time is ticking and passing with each moment. Nancy Pelosi is smart for keeping the impeachment hungry wolves at bay. She’s a veteran when it comes to politics. She knows how ugly impeachment hearings are and how divided the country becomes. The worst thing the Democratic Party can do is to go down the road of impeachment and further divide an already divided nation. The goal is to unify the country around your vision for the future. If that future is focusing on the past election and not the upcoming one they will give off the wrong message. As anyone who follows politics can attest to, the message is key to winning votes.
I watched the entirety of the initial two night, 20 person, Democratic primary debates this past week. The people that were polling the highest received the most airtime. That was by design. The DNC knows who they like. The frontrunners also were the predictable beneficiaries of attacks by those on stage who were polling well and not at all. Those attacks gave them additional airtime to respond and get their message across to the country. I won’t say who did the best job and who was forgettable. Plenty of people have already done that and you can formulate your own opinion on who did the best job. It’s early in the game and those two rounds of “Hi, my name is” speed debating is just the beginning of a long election season. I will make a prediction. After the first few primaries are held you will see the field of 20 chopped in half. Horse races and Indy cars are a good comparison. You don’t have to come in first place. You just need to place or show to gain momentum and continue receiving donations.
The Pew Research Center released a report last year that analyzed the 2016 electorate along with validated voters. It’s a little bit dry but is a goldmine for those running who want to do a deep dive into who voted for Trump and why. The report breaks down the votes cast by age, race, education, ideology, religion and geographic location. It also mentioned that four in ten Americans who were eligible to vote did not. To spell that out even clearer 40% of people who could have made their voice heard when it actually counts did not. If you’re one of them or know someone who is and are mad at Trump for winning you know what you have to do next time. If you don’t vote your voice does not count. The squeaky wheel gets the oil and a vote that is cast gets counted.
When you read that report it will confirm what we already know, Hillary won the popular vote. She lost the electoral vote, which is stating the obvious. What the report shows is that for certain groups Trump’s message resonated better with America’s heartland. Some may correlate that to the non-coastal flyover states. You are correct electorally but that’s not what I was referring to. The heartland of this country and how it votes historically is center-right. If you just look at it from a simple ideological line Democrats voted 94-5 in favor of Clinton and Republicans voted 92-4 in favor of Trump. This is not surprising. What determines the outcomes of elections as it always does are the undecided, independent voters who may or may not be registered to one of the two parties but have no loyalty to them. Those are the voters who will watch the debates and vote based on whom they think has the best vision for the future. They may not always like the person they vote for but when the choice comes down to the lesser of two evils and agreeing with one because they believe they will do a better job they swing the vote in their direction. That’s why swing voters and swing states are so hard to predict. It’s one part logic, two parts emotion.
In business, there is something called a SWOT Analysis. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. When used as a noun it is defined as a study undertaken by an organization to identify its internal strengths and weaknesses, as well as its external opportunities and threats. Campaign managers knowingly or unknowingly use this approach when deciding on where to campaign and how to spend their advertising dollars. An example from the 2016 election was how much time each candidate did or didn’t spend in each state campaigning. If a state that leans overwhelmingly blue or red by a large margin has a history of remaining that way you will see very little time and money go into that state by the party in the minority. This strategy proved to be costly to Hillary in the case of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. She took those states for granted and assumed they would remain Democratic. In her memoir, she disputes this criticism vehemently. She can dispute it all she wants. The bottom line is she relied heavily on polls and what her handlers were telling her. Regardless of what she read and they said she needed to build momentum by campaigning even if it meant preaching to the choir.
Another factor that can change the outcomes of elections is third party candidates. People that give their votes to them historically have changed the outcomes of elections on many occasions. The report notes that 9% of voters preferred Gary Johnson or Jill Stein. Add to that the disenfranchised Sanders voters who felt the DNC rigged the primaries against him and stayed at home in protest and you can see how Hillary lost several states by very narrow margins. Even if the DNC didn’t actually rig the election the impression that they did was enough to cost their party the White House.
Education. The Democratic Party tends to attract a higher percentage of college-educated voters. People who graduated college favored Clinton over Trump 43% to 29%. Those with some college favored Trump over Clinton 37% to 29%. And people with a High School diploma or less voted for Trump in similar margins 34% to 28%. Why is this important? If you’re making the presumption that smarter people vote Democratic you are only scratching the surface and not getting to the heart of the data.
College is not for everyone. Plenty of smart people choose to forgo the college experience and costly price tag that goes along with it. The student loan debt is a crisis in the amount of $1.5 Trillion. Each day more and more people are regretting their decision to invest in their education with loans that cannot be written off in bankruptcy and stick around for many years into the future. The monthly payments impact their debt to income ratio and the ability to make major financial purchases. According to statistics compiled by the U.S. Department of Education, as of Sept. 30, 2018, the average student loan debt was $33,310. The number of student loan borrowers was 42.9 million. That dollar amount is just an average. Some people have less and some have amounts in the six figures. Compare that to purchasing a new car or condo. The average car loan can range from 48 – 72 months. The average home loan can go from 10 – 30 years. You are starting off with a negative balance while those who chose to go the trade school route, work for someone else or start their own business are at zero and can begin accumulating wealth immediately. The argument that people with multiple college degrees can earn a higher amount on average over a lifetime may have been true in the past. When people who have those degrees are unable to find work and are doing jobs to survive that do not require a degree they tend to second-guess their decisions. Academia seems to be the exception to the rule. That may explain the difference in voter loyalty and why you will tend to see more Democratic sidewalk signs in college towns over Republican. It’s not a proven science but is something I noticed during the last election.
That brings us to communication and vocabulary. It’s safe to say people who have been in school longer have gained a broader vocabulary. This is not by choice, as each subject matter being studied requires you to learn new definitions related to the class coursework. It’s like osmosis and breathing. You will absorb the different ways of expressing yourself and think everyone around you will think the same way. If the data shows us that people who voted for Trump in a greater number are amongst those with some college or less it is safe to say they will have a vocabulary that is simpler or of a different nature than those in academia. A mechanic or HVAC technician will diagnose a problem to you in ways that come naturally to them but leave you scratching your head and think they’re speaking a foreign language. The same goes for a scientist or biologist who tries to explain how a breakthrough was made through gene separation and molecular fusion. You will be lost and saying I have no clue what you’re talking about.
Take that line of thought and compare it to how Trump speaks on the campaign trail and at rallies. Short simple words often repeated twice in a row. Ernest Hemingway was a prolific writer who had a strong command of the English language. He wrote in a way that was popular during his time. The way people speak now is much different then when he was around. I read a blog once that was written by someone who had over a 100,000 unique visitors each month. They were college educated and noticed that the majority of people had a 6th-grade vocabulary. There is a website called www.hemingwayapp.com. She used it to help her simplify her speech. Once she did she noticed her blog started to gain a lot of traction. There were other things she did as well like create catchy headlines and invest in digital advertising to help her blog grow. Simplifying her speech was what brought it all home for her and produced immediate results. If you have kids you will find yourself talking to them on a level they can understand. Anything more and they will give you a blank stare. Politicians who are competing for your vote could do well by taking the Trump style of speaking and use it to resonate with a broader audience. If a voter understands you and can relate to you they may be inclined to support you and give you their vote. That is after all the way you win elections.
Racism, race, age, gender, gender preference, sexual preference, religion, and abortion. Those are the heart of identity politics and are political landmines. If you are a Democrat and know you will receive the majority of Democratic votes regardless of how you feel about those issues craft your message in a way that sticks to your true beliefs and appeals to those who may not agree with you 100%. That doesn’t mean say one thing to one-group and change positions when you’re talking to another. What it means is to accept the fact that not everyone leans to the hard left and has progressive beliefs. Many on the Democratic primary stage have been trying to out-left each other by taking positions that may sound well in California and New York but are of a foreign language to the majority of the voters who are somewhere in the middle.
Socialism goes against everything this country was founded on. The constitution provides for the pursuit of happiness, not a guarantee of it. Eliminating student loan debt because you took out loans based on a bet that it would lead to financial prosperity is not the government’s fault. The student loan industry may have lobbied Congress to make student loans more accessible but they didn’t force you to take them out. Universal pre-k is not a right. Taxpayer-funded abortions are not a right. Universal basic income is not a right. Universal healthcare is not a right. All those and more are at the heart of the Socialist platform and will be a losing message if the candidates on stage continue promoting it.
Immigration and amnesty. We are a country of immigrants, by immigrants and for immigrants. I myself am a first generation American. Had it not been for this countries legal immigration policies and willingness to accept people from foreign lands and all walks of life I would be blogging from a different continent. The key word is legal. The majority of people in this country have compassion for the plight of immigrants around the world who are seeking a better life. The statue of liberty is a symbol of that beacon of hope. What the majority of the people believe in even more is the rule of law and our right to determine whom we allow to immigrate, where they come from and at what amount. The crisis at the border is a humanitarian crisis. Human beings are attempting to migrate without authorization and many progressives believe that is their right. Migration is a human right but where, when, how and what amount of migration is determined by the federal government.
Sanctuary cities/states. No Bueno! Not a good idea or policy plan. When states, counties, and towns go against the laws of the federal government it is counterproductive to the role the federal government is tasked with in keeping its citizens safe. When a criminal illegal alien has been ordered removed by a federal judge that ruling is final. Local politicians have no right to tell their local law enforcement to ignore ICE detainers and release criminal aliens back into the community. Think of how crazy that sounds. They are releasing criminals who have been convicted of a crime and have been ordered deported back on the streets. Sometimes those same convicted criminals become repeat offenders. This is not me painting all immigrants with a broad brush. This is me pointing out the obvious of a narrow segment of our undocumented population. Actions have consequences. If you break the law by being in this country without authorization and are convicted by the courts of breaking another law and are ordered removed after serving your prison sentence sanctuary city policies send the message that a federal judges ruling has no weight and can be ignored. If a judges ruling can be ignored when it comes to immigration it can be ignored when it comes to any other topic if we are going the sanctuary city route. The Supreme Court is the highest law of the land. Until the justices determine if our immigration laws are unconstitutional the laws that are voted on by Congress will remain in place until there is consensus to change them. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. If the next president is a Democrat and they are trying to implement policies on immigration that they feel are best don’t be upset when Republican-controlled states and cities ignore their actions and put in place policies that are counter to them. The reason why Federal Law trumps state law is to have one uniform form of governance. Anything less leads to chaos and confusion.
I can continue on with many other topics but those are the heart of what this country cares about. Most importantly they care about jobs. As James Carville once said, “it’s the economy stupid!” Show the people how you will improve their quality of life and those around them. Create a message that promotes an economic rising tide that raises the standard of living for all. That doesn’t mean increase the minimum wage. By definition, minimum means the bottom. Formulate a jobs plan. With unemployment being at 3.6% currently, there are more people working now then at many times in our nation’s history. Trump will take credit for this and he has the right to do so. To the victor goes the spoils. The Democratic message on the economy should not be one of negativity but one of improved prosperity. Nobody likes to go backward. If your salary has not gone down but has not improved by a significant amount or only slightly you have to promote a jobs plan that will actually create higher paying jobs that are realistic and obtainable. This does not mean go all in on renewable energy and tell coal miners in WV they were all going to lose their jobs. Clinton lost that state by a margin of more than 2-1. Not a smart idea to tell someone whose vote you’re asking for that they will be on the unemployment line but can change what their families have done for generations as a consolation prize.
All in all, it’s all about relate-ability. The report showed that from the time Trump was elected until March 2018 their feelings for him remained consistent. On Election Day 63% of voters had very warm feelings for him and 24% felt somewhat warm. Those amounts have dipped slightly to 62% very warm and 20% somewhat warm. The Democratic challenger for president needs to connect with the voter on a personal level. If the voter does not believe you care about them or feels you are disingenuous you will not gain their trust or loyalty. That means you have to be honest and take positions that are not popular amongst the extremists who make the most noise. Trump voters were the silent majority. They were reluctant to give their true feelings when being polled and kept their opinions to themselves until it was time to vote. The way you could tell Trump was gaining momentum and resonating with the people was by the size of his crowds at his campaign rallies. Even most recently when Trump announced he was running for re-election in Florida, there were people waiting on line for 40 hours prior to the event just so they could ensure they would be inside the venue to hear him speak. No poll will tell you that. No extremist position will build that kind of loyal fan base. The key to a Democratic victory in 2020 is to emulate success. The message must be similar to Trump but greater. Trump is a polarizing figure. Be the party of love. Trump is divisive. Be the voice that brings people together. Trump has built a successful economy and speaks in platitudes. Make your vision of American greatness one that only your leadership can bring. And finally, commit to ending the wars in the Middle East. Trump campaigned on that but has faced strong opposition from within his own party and the industrialized military complex and has yet to deliver on his promise. It takes a strong-willed person to go against the establishment whose careers are built on never-ending wars. The only thing people care about more than the economy is the loss of a loved one who has died in a war while serving our country. Gold Star families are those who have lost a loved one while serving in the military. Deliver on your promise to them and others who care about the military that no more American lives will be lost due to conflicts initiated in the name of ideological regime change. If a Democratic challenger can do all of that they will have the vote of many on the left, right and center and become the 46th President of the United States of America.