As the heat of summer slowly fades away, as the days get shorter, the weather correlates well with the Presidential race. The summer brought the end of the primary season, the Conventions with all their drama, and the beginning of the final stretch to election day. Just as autumn begins, so does the final sprint to the finish line. There is much to discuss about where we have been, and what lies ahead. Let’s get started.
On the Democrat side, it was a two candidate race from the beginning. Oh, there were a few more candidates who disappeared before the race even started. Hillary Clinton was a huge favorite from the beginning. The Democratic National Committee (DNC) allowed Bernie Sanders, an Independent Socialist Senator from Vermont, to run against Hillary so she could actually claim to have actually won the primary states. Bernie ran as far left, and refused to go away. He won almost as many states as Hillary and forced her to move her positions to the left to counter the upstart. Bernie just didn’t go away. He showed that Hillary could be defeated. Hillary was shown to be vulnerable because of her strong ties to Wall Street brokers and big banks. If Sanders had chosen to attack Clinton on her scandals, she might have not been the nominee.
The Republicans had a different type of problem. Instead of a sparse number of candidates in the primaries like the Democrats, the GOP field was large and talented. There were 17 candidates competing for the nomination. The Republicans covered the spectrum. We had Rick Santorum on the right to Jeb Bush on the left. One by one they fell until only Donald Trump was standing. Trump did something unheard of in politics, he spent his own money on the campaign. Trump ran against the Washington GOP establishment. This is causing the Republican power structure to feel threatened and some are actively trying to defeat the Republican nominee.
The Republicans went first in Cleveland, Ohio. Donald Trump secured the required delegates several weeks before the primary season ended. He went to work trying to bring some of his opponents along. He did have some limited success but several refused to endorse or even support Trump. There was a movement to peel off some of Trump’s delegates to deny him the first vote numbers to secure the nomination. then the power structure could broker a candidate more to their liking. This attempt failed miserably and Trump became the nominee. The drama ended.
There was an attempt by the Democrats to use “Black Lives Matters” and other groups to disrupt the convention coverage. This failed to get the coverage they desired.
The following week, the Democrats gathered in Philadelphia, PA. Although Hillary Clinton secured the necessary votes to secure the nomination, the Bernie Sanders delegates refused to give up. The Sanders campaign had become more of a movement than a campaign race. Although Sanders urged his supporters to vote for Clinton, many refused to come over to the Hillary side. Bernie had pulled Hillary far to the left during the primaries. She needs the Sanders voters to win in the fall. This caused her to stay far left at the convention. During her acceptance speech many of the Sanders supporters left the building rather than show support for Hillary.
POST CONVENTION SUMMER
Both candidates have campaigned since the conventions ended. Hillary has raised an obscene amount of money this summer. Trump has spent his time giving speeches and meeting with the media. Hillary Clinton has avoided answering questions from the press pool, but has appeared on many shows that are not hosted by hard core journalists.
Hillary has spent millions on negative ads in the swing states in an attempt to define Trump a unsuitable to be President. There have also been some ads favoring Trump run by superpacs in the swing states but they are far short of the amount run by Hillary.
Donald Trump has started to fundraise in a serious way. He will never match the Hillary purse, but hopes to have enough to run a decent campaign. The Trump campaign is going after smaller donations very similar to what we saw from Bernie Sanders. One advantage of this method is he can continue to go back to this group over and over again, as they are way below the legal limit on contributions.
Trump has had organizational problems. His campaign staff has turned over several times. As his performance has been criticized as not being inclusive enough to draw in enough support to win in November, he has made major changes in his campaign organization. The big question is: Is the problem the campaign staff or the candidate? Since the latest changes, his campaign has done better.
The Clinton strategy has been to only appear in front of friendly people. Hillary has refused to accept questions from her press pool. Clinton has not held a press conference since last fall when she formally announced her campaign. Hillary also has let Trump be Trump. Donald has a way of self destructing whenever he does something good. Clinton has benefited from sitting back and doing nothing, allowing Donald to undo whatever gains he has made. So far, she has continued to lead in the polls using this method.
Hillary continues to lead, but the lead is currently shrinking. One of the reasons for the tightening of the race is the various scandals she faces. The emails and the Clinton Foundation continue to drag on her reputation. Hillary has countered by refusing to answer any questions and attacking Trump as mentally unfit to do the job. Her media campaign has spent millions in the swing states painting Trump as unfit to be President. Trump just doesn’t have the funds to counter Clinton ad for ad. Superpacs have been active in these states also.
Donald visited Mexican President Pena Nieto. Surprisingly, he came off as being very Presidential. Hillary had declined her invitation for the southern visit. She made a major mistake allowing Trump to counter her claims of not being able to do the job. People now see Trump as being President for the first time.
There is more information dribbling out about the Clinton emails. This will continue to wear on her and her campaign right up to the election. There also are more emails about Benghazi that have been discovered. This adds to the truthfulness question raised by Congress. And let us not forget about the Clinton Foundation. All these items could derail the Clinton campaign together or separately. There is a question about Hillary’s health. Rumors are rampart that Hillary has serious health problems that could impede her from being able to do the job. Her lack of accessibility has caused these stories to flourish. The FBI document dump just before the Labor Day weekend showed that Hillary said she could not remember something every 3 minutes during her questioning. She blamed this on brain damage from he concussion. This will further question her physical ability to do the job.
Donald Trump has problems of his own. His biggest problem is convincing the American voter that he is Presidential. He had a wonderful visit with President Nieto from Mexico. He undid much of the progress of that visit by his speech the following day. Trump still needs more discipline if he wants to be successful. Donald also needs to expand his support to the groups where he has little support. Blacks and Hispanics are not supporting him in the numbers necessary to win. Trump has too many speeches where he talks to his audience rather than talk to the broader audience watching on TV that he needs to convert. Trumps base is too small to carry him to victory.
Let’s face it. This election will probably be decided by the three debates that start in a few weeks. Both of these candidates are flawed. Which ever candidate can overcome their shortcomings with the public will probably win.