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The Race is Hotter Than July

The next two weeks will set the tone for the rest of the Presidential campaign. In fourteen days we will know just how everything is going, from the themes we can expect to carry through to November to the polls telling us how the horse race has started.

How will it shake out? If you’re a Republican, you’re probably hoping it won’t be a disaster. Democrats have their own fears for a disruptive show, but appear to be better prepared for a traditional convention bounce.

Here’s what to look for over the next two weeks.

Gov. Mike Pence.  Does he get to define himself?

Gov. Mike Pence. Does he get to define himself?

We have to start with Mike Pence, the Governor of Indiana. He is still being introduced to America, especially since Trump pretty much failed to make an actual introduction. The news conference was a rambling mess until some white haired guy showed up and actually looked like he was running for office. Pence is cool, controlled, and generally likable. But his policy stands can only be described as far right. If the Democrats and/or the press succeed in defining him before he can define himself, he’s a net negative.

Then we have Clinton’s running mate, who we don’t know at this stage. Speculation is running amok now that Elizabeth Warren doesn’t have her own speaking slot at the convention. If she is chosen, Republicans will salivate over the opportunity to assail her as a far left icon. Democrats, no matter who they pick, will be looking for a bounce of excitement – and may get it. It’s about getting young people out to vote, which is why the all-women ticket may be a good gamble. If the pick is announced on Monday it could also wipe out the Republican convention coverage, limiting their potential bounce.

Newt Gingrich always looks hungry.

Newt Gingrich always looks hungry.

Speaking of the Republican Convention, it will be a bore. Yes, I am a Democrat and yes, you could expect me to say this. But the most interesting speaker is likely to be Newt Gingrich – the one politician in America who may be more hated than Trump. Everyone will be looking for a convention bounce, but there is not likely to be one – especially if Clinton steals the news cycle.

Look for a strong theme of “Law and Order”, reminiscent of the successful campaign of Nixon in 1968. It’s not a sure thing, but it would be a good angle for Republicans.

On Wednesday, we have two pieces potentially devastating news for Trump. The first is the release of the June FEC filings, which could easily show the announced $51 million Trump said he raised is actually much less. A lie will play into the general theme that the guy is a fraud. Speaking of fraud, the lawsuit against Trump should be certified to proceed to trial as a RICO suit on Wednesday – bringing Judge Curiel back into the news and putting the words “fraud” and “Trump” very close together.

Trump rallies have often featured violence - for a long time.

Trump rallies have often featured violence – for a long time.

Then, there is the prospect of violence. To be fair to the Republicans, conventions always bring out lunatics and it’s not the party’s fault. Cleveland, however, happens to be in an “open carry” state where the lunatics on both sides will be armed. How that spins any “Law and Order” pitch is the real issue at hand. If the message becomes Republicans equal chaos, or indeed if it suggests a need for gun control more than a police crackdown, the Republican convention will be a net negative. That’s bad for them.

We also need to watch for displays from the “Never Trump!” faction on the floor. The press will love that junk and play it up – if it happens.

Sen. Warren in fighting form.

Sen. Warren in fighting form.

If the Republicans escape the week without a major problem, the Democratic convention could be their next headache. It’s much better set up for success, with top-notch speakers and displays of unity woven into every moment. The theme is “Stronger Together,” which describes both the party and Clinton’s general theme of uniting the country.

It should ignite the media and produce a traditional convention bounce of six points.

All together, a Republican bounce of zero to two points and a Democratic one of six points should leave us with a solid Clinton lead in two weeks versus the oft-reported tight race now. Polling is very hard today, especially among younger people. Many polls under-state the expected 16% of the electorate who will be under 30, as well as the 40% non-white share.

Clinton is leading now, no matter what you read, but two weeks from now it should be obvious.

17 thoughts on “The Race is Hotter Than July

  1. Good post … very astute. I agree that the Republican convention itself will be boring … but I think the area outside the building may be where the fireworks are, given the combination of vitriol, guns, tempers and no doubt alcohol. Great combination. I hope sanity prevails, but am not holding my breath.

  2. Well, that’s how the map points for now. Imagine there will be some big surprises in the coming days. Will Trump even stay on the road? We’ll see …

      • Now you’re getting philosophical. I suppose anxiety or anxious wariness is the best description. Maybe the closest physical model would be getting on a roller coast and going up the to the first crest, knowing there’s a sharp drop ahead.

  3. Erik: I agree with the post except for the prediction of a boring republogarkic convention. I see major violence between anti-Trump demonstrators and Trump’s tried and true White Supremacists and KKK thugs. I’m surprised it didn’t start last night (7/17/16). Now, having said that, I can say this: I’ve been wrong before! Very good post.

  4. I have always thought the national conventions to be repellent police-state events, and are ignoring the circulating requests to help people go to Philadelphia. One should remember the ’68 convention in Chicago, and how the chaos there helped put Tricky Dick into office. It’s hard to know in advance how chaotic scenes, if they occur, will be read by voters.

    • Indeed. I would love to say they don’t matter anymore and we can stop having them. I’ve always hated them, but after St Paul hosted the 2008 convention I now see them as an atrocity. “Free Speech Zone” ??? What a crime that is all around. And they do attract all the crazies so as much as I want to blame the police state, always out in full force, there is a lot of blame to go around. Just horrible things.

  5. Let Trump keep talking! He shows who he is the more he talks. The way Mike Pence had to toe the line in the 60 minutes interview showed what he is like. How can anyone work for him? He is an absolute dictator!

    • Letting him talk is a good strategy, yes. The more he hogs the press the more we see who he is. The Iraq War part of the Lesley Stahl interview was the most telling to me – Pence gets a pass? Hmmmm ….

  6. Really, the combination of Trump and Pence is so repellent, so evil, that I would not have believed it could be, were it not actually happening. I’ve not seen much about holding McCain responsible for inflicting Palin on the national scene. Pence is far worse than Palin. The harm he has done to Indiana is immeasurable; he’s just not quite as loud and bombastic as some of his fellow nutters. The mind boggles…..

    • Will this get out into the world, however? Pence was clearly forced on Trump by the same people who drafted that horrible platform. I don’t understand it at all. Ideological purity is definitely more important to them than winning – or governing, for that matter. And they are really evil, yes – and I hate to use that word. I have yet to find words to describe just how I feel about this.

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