Remember the media’s good old days in August when the election was over and Trump was done? Hillary had surged to a 6-10 point lead nationally and was leading in most of the battleground states. It prompted the MSM to declare that the Trump campaign was imploding. Here are some of the hits (headlines):
Well of all the nerve to be away at such a time.
And there are many more. Apparently “implode” was the word of the month in the MSM.
The polls have shifted dramatically since mid-August nationally and in several battleground states:
National: Clinton + 8 to a virtual tie (Trump + 8)
Virginia: Clinton + 19 to Clinton + 3 (Trump + 16)
Florida: Clinton + 7 to Trump + 4 (Trump + 11)
Ohio: Clinton + 5 to Trump + 3 (Trump 8)
Colorado – Clinton + 8 to Trump + 4 (Trump + 12)
So what has caused this Trump surge that no one in the media or the Clinton campaign saw coming? I believe it was a combination of several things Trump did to turn his campaign around and aim it for victory:
- On August 16, Trump hired Steve Bannon and promoted Kellyanne Conway to take over his campaign. Of course the media predictably scorned and mocked the move indicating it would increase the “shoot from the hip” nature of Trump’s personality. But as often has been the case with the Trump campaign, the opposite has happened. You would think at some point the media (including the conservative media) would begin to get a clue that this is not a normal election. Trump has completely thrown out the old rulebook about the way campaigns are run. So far it has served him well. If Trump should win the election, I think history will look back to this decision as the turning point in the election.
- Trump has stayed on message the last 4-5 weeks. And has (so far) refrained from saying outrageous things that dominate the news cycles. I have watched many of his speeches over the last year and it is striking how disciplined he has become just in the last month. He hits the same themes over and over, which a candidate needs to do. I have often been frustrated in past elections when the Republican nominee sates something once or twice, then moves on assuming everyone got it.
- Trump has given key speeches on immigration, terrorism, the economy and education. For a guy the media wants us to believe knows nothing about the world, he sure seems to understand it a lot better than the “nattering nabobs” in the press. And it is resonating with people. Just look at the size of his crowds.
- He has stayed on offense and kept the focus on Hillary Clinton. Just like the phrases “Low Energy” Jeb and “Lyin’ Ted” became common in the primaries, “Crooked Hillary” has become a common theme of his speeches and PR.
- The trip to Louisiana to see the devastation from the flood. Trump was criticized for it but I believe it was sincere and heart felt. And it looked Presidential. Obama obviously saw this and as soon as he was done with his vacation and golf game he flew down as well. Hillary has yet to go, instead phoning it in. This from the person who said of President Bush in 2007: “And if you’re stuck on a rooftop or stranded in the Superdome during a hurricane, you’re invisible to this president even when you’re on CNN,”. Who’s invisible now?
- His appeal to the black population – especially in the inner cities. The press about had a cow with this, going so far to say that he was doing it to shore up his white Nationalist (hint: racist) base. Exactly how his appeal to blacks would garner support from what the media perceived as white racists has not been explained. In the process Trump is educating the population on the fact that most of these inner cities have been run by Democrats for decades as well as many of the racist policies of the Democratic party for the last 100 years, the history of which Republicans have allowed to be re-written to blame them! Trump’s visit to the church in Detroit was a continuing effort to reach out to these voters. Whether it has a large impact or not remains to be seen. But it has the virtue of never having been tried by any recent GOP Presidential nominee.
- Trump’s trip to Mexico was a brilliant move that again made him appear Presidential as he stood next to the Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on stage. He also was able to get a general agreement that the border needed to be secured, NAFTA needed to be improved and that the gun running needed to stop (can anyone say ‘Fast and Furious”).
- Trump focusing on the families who have lost loved ones to the criminal actions of illegal immigrants. And thanks to Hillary’s “deplorable” comments, Trump is now bringing different supporters onstage to express their anger over those comments.
At the same time that Trump has been on offense, Hillary has virtually been absent. Whether she is sick or has health issues or not does not change that fact. And when she does appear she is committing mistakes that a well established politician should not be making (i.e. the “basket of deplorable’s” comment). I don’t know if the Clinton camp thought they had it won in August and could coast to victory with just a few appearances here and there. But it is post Labor Day and this election has become a dead heat. It’s going to be interesting to see how this plays out over the next month and a half. One thing’s for sure: win or lose Donald Trump is going to play the game his way.