The general election, Clinton versus Trump, is set. It will almost certainly be the nastiest election any of us have lived through, but barring something bizarre happening the outcome is rather certain. The only question remaining is whether the Democrats pick up enough downballot, in the Senate and House, to really take control.
Two things have happened that give us reason to believe this will happen. The first is that the Trump campaign had to confess that it is essentially broke and will depend on the money that comes from the actual nomination – six weeks from now. The second is that Clinton has already opened this window of opportunity with a blistering speech using Trump’s words against him.
How will this play out? Let me predict it for you. Add your predictions and thoughts in the comments.
Most analysts agree that for Trump to win he has to turn the manufacturing heartland against the Democrats, which is to say that he starts in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio. It also goes without saying that Florida is a key state for him as well, being the key swing state that has gone with the winner since 1996 – and its 29 electoral votes could go either way.
Clinton is polling ahead in Florida right at the margin of error, so it’s very much in play. That will be a key state for her as well, and it will suit her to neutralize the Trump threat in the industrial heartland. But Trump is more likely to run a national campaign without a tight focus. Clinton’s campaign will probably be national in focus with three very important groups receiving a distinct message.
White Men. It’s unlikely that they will vote for Clinton, given that they went big for Romney, 62-38. But they can be neutralized and deactivated. The message for them is that Trump is a fraud – a con man playing a game. That message is best delivered by people like Mark Cuban, who is now on record saying Trump is likely not a billionaire. More talk like that from him is needed, and it will be coming. Lawsuits over Trump University will play into this as well, as will a lot of talk about shady dealings and bankruptcies.
Think of it as “Swift Boating”, which is attacking your opponent where they think they are the strongest. If they don’t see it coming and are slow to respond they wind up spending a lot of time defending themselves rather than attacking. Trump is very vulnerable here, too, and his campaign is broke because he has nothing more to give it. Expect his fundraisers to be covered in depth, too, showing that “He can be bought”. The core message falls apart and his strongest supporters start to not care.
Women. Somewhere between 70% and 80% of all women have a negative view of Trump according to polls. That is devastating because 54% of the electorate are women. The message that Trump is a misogynist will ring loud and clear throughout the summer, but it will not come from Clinton herself. She plays “The Woman Card” best by being her tough and hardworking self.
I think we can expect her to fire up women to not just hate Trump, but really hate him – so much that they campaign hard for Clinton in every family. If Clinton really can land more than 70% of the female vote that will be a big improvement over the 55% that Obama got in 2012. It would also be unstoppable unless Trump exceeded that margin among men.
Hispanics. The term “Hispanic” is quite ridiculous because there is no good reason why Cubans, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Argentines and so on could possibly be described as one block. Certainly, many are pro-Life and many own small businesses. Yet the overt racism of Trump has made this block not only solid but a force to be reckoned with.
The problem with Hispanics is that their turnout is typically very low – where Whites and Blacks both turnout around 65-67% in a presidential year only 48% of Hispanics showed at the polls in 1992. That’s what has to change for Clinton, and it’s very important.
In fact, if the 71% Democratic rate with 48% turnout of Hispanics met the rates for Blacks, 93% Democratic and 67% turnout – Arizona, Texas, and North Carolina would be firmly Democratic. That is likely the difference between taking the US House and not, if the magic holds downballot.
Clinton has already said that she will put Texas in play, and that probably means Hispanics. But the character of the election will be a bit different. The emphasis will be on turnout and getting people to the polls. It’s not enough to expect Trump will scare people to the polls, though that will help a lot.
This is important early on because even the threat of this will keep Texas money in Texas and away from the national campaign. Expect Clinton to make a lot of noise early in Texas to keep Trump broke through the whole campaign.
That’s how I expect this to play out. Trump will hit the manufacturing heartland at times, Clinton will hit major demographic groups on a national scale harder. The fight will start in Florida, feint to Michigan, but start pounding in Texas.
What do you see happening?