Almost Venturing a Bet: Trump Wins It

06Sep16

This blog is different from my American System blog. Over there, the focus is on serious analyses. Here, it’s more of a speculative, have-some-fun attitude.

In the American System blog, I recently presented a possible reason for voting for Donald Trump. As noted in that article, I wasn’t convinced, but I was interested.

Now I want to speculate as to why Trump might actually become president in the November 2016 election, two months away. This is an extension of my ridiculously early forecast, more than two years ago, that the Republican candidate would win in 2016.

To explain my sense that Trump might win, consider this quote from a recent New York Times piece offering advice to Hillary Clinton:

Mr. Trump has captured the imagination of voters with his bold if unconventional approach to politics, and he certainly has dominated the campaign.

“Take a risk,” Mr. Newhouse said. “For God’s sake, hold a news conference. Disband the Clinton Foundation. They are just too timid. They’re afraid of their own shadow.”

The big risk facing Clinton — aside from her email fiasco — lies in the upcoming debates. It appears she is making the mistake presidents often make, of living inside an echo chamber where she mostly hears from people who agree with her. If it were otherwise, I think she would be more aggressive about doing what Newhouse suggested in that quote: make strenuous efforts to respond to the concerns of the so-called “crazies” who oppose her.

I think it is possible that, in the debates, Trump will display an ability to discipline and focus himself. He may actually be a lot smarter than many of us give him credit for. He may need a crisis in order to get serious and behave like a president. I think that, in the first debate especially, he may offer a vivid contrast between the overly scripted and fake Clinton style and his own genuineness, however bizarre it may be.

There’s one other thing. Sometimes, somehow, someone becomes a loser, and the taint stays with them forever after. People avoid losers; they flock to winners. Hillary has credentials, abilities, and potential. But she doesn’t have that air of the champion. This constant guardedness is the behavior of someone who fears she might lose. And that’s very different from someone who’s sure he’s going to win. It’s the difference between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy. And (I’ll add in this sentence, dated Sept. 12) it’s the Nixon, in Hillary, that would have her try to conceal an adverse health condition, only to result in what was nearly a physical collapse in full view of cameras; it’s the Nixon that would call half of Trump’s supporters “deplorable.”

A few weeks ago, a friend and I placed bets on the election. The friend, a raving liberal, bet that Hillary would win by 10%. I bet she’d win by 4%. My reasoning: after all the crazy stuff Trump has said and done, his numbers are remarkably high. At this point, there’s not much he can do that would turn off anyone who isn’t already turned off. His numbers can only go up. Hillary, by contrast, is not going to do anything that will impress anyone. People have been forming their opinions of her for years. Not much is going to change. She’s just going to hold on and hope her lead doesn’t slip away. Which is another way of saying she’s waiting for the surprise that will defeat her.

Today, the average of surveys assembled by RealClearPolitics gives Hillary that 4% advantage I predicted. But a lot can happen between now and November. I’ll probably check back here later with an update.

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One Response to “Almost Venturing a Bet: Trump Wins It”

  1. Well, “discipline” and “focus” are not the first words that come to mind, having seen Donald in action in those debates. Let me just say I’m glad that we did get to see him in that context. Sobering, to say the least.

    Meanwhile, Hillary’s performance at the Al Smith Dinner the other night was certainly encouraging. I hadn’t seen the lighter side of her. It helped. Even if others wrote the jokes, it was plain that she knew how to deliver them. Some were a little heavy for my taste, but it seems I might have felt differently if I’d witnessed Trump’s turn at the mike.


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