Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Is the GOP Buying What Trump is Selling?

Queen Elizabeth II Great Court
As the eternal campaign season slaloms into summertime, both Democrats and Republicans face a PR crisis unprecedented in the modern era. Both top candidates face major unfavorable ratings, and both also face a strong insurgency from outsider candidates. Hillary is fighting Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who is neck and neck for the nomination despite not actually being a Democrat.

Meanwhile, on the GOP side, the NeverTrump movement may have found its golden boy in Libertarian Gary Johnson. The perennial “third party” candidate is getting more buzz this season than he ever has, and that might prove to be trouble for Trump in November. Donald continues to radiate confidence, and why not, considering he’s still racking up primary victories, and he’s closing the gap on Hillary in the polls. But there are still many, many GOP voters who wake up every day hoping this is all a dream, or, more to the point, a nightmare. They don’t want to vote “Trump” no matter what.

Expect the Unexpected this Election Cycle

Conventional wisdom says they have no choice, but if anything is clear about this election cycle, it’s that conventional wisdom isn’t so wise. Nothing has gone like expected in this cycle. Back in the early going even Donald Trump didn’t predict his victory. He told some media outlets he expected to win 20 percent or so. But he just kept swinging and kept winning.

Master of Branding

And then there’s the irrefutable reality that Trump is a master at branding. That, more than anything else, is his stock in trade. He has made his name a brand representing multiple industries and, in a very real sense, Trump equals success. That’s a mastermind accomplishment from a PR perspective. People who don’t pay any attention to politics know who Trump is, and they know he’s successful. Critics like to argue that “they” know it because Trump won’t stop telling them. But, honestly, when the time comes to vote, it won’t matter how they know that. They will “know” … they will have internalized that knowledge … and that’s what matters.
So Trump keeps selling his name, and he’s also started selling the GOP insiders on his credentials. When compared to Clinton, he’s the obvious choice, he says. Just look at all the Conservatives who are lining up to ride the Trump train.
Echoing this theme, Trump is knocking heavily on the Supreme Court issue. Regardless of any policy issues, this factor looms very large for many in the GOP. It may just be the make or break issue for many in the party. They can tolerate just about any dissension if it keeps Hillary from loading the courts with her picks.
This is not going to be Trump’s only sales pitch, but it’s an impactful one, showing he’s going to swing for the fences right out of the gate.
David Milberg is an financial analyst in NYC.

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