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andym's Journal
andym's Journal
December 20, 2016

I just can't understand how the worst major party Presidential candidate in American history

could have possibly won the election, albeit only in the electoral college. According to Polifact he only tells the truth about 15% of the time. He ran a divisive campaign and still won. He should have lost in a rout of the magnitude of Goldwater, Mondale or McGovern. Instead he won by 74 electoral votes (not counting the defections). The only good thing is that he did not have any coat tails, beyond preventing Democrats from taking the Senate and a few more seats in the House.

Yet this is the reality. He is the President and the GOP controls the House, the Senate and about 2/3 of the state houses and governorships in the USA. They also are about to control the Supreme Court. Many people have bought into the conservative agenda that freedom from government taxes, regulations and "interference" that the GOP is not going to be eclipsed anytime soon. Social safety nets and the principles of the New Deal have been demonized by the GOP for years. In 2009 DUers were babbling about a progressive majority. Many articles have been written even this year about demographic changes favoring Democrats and yet the Democratic Party is in retreat except on the West coast and Northeast. And now the country and the world will pay a heavy price.

So what are they practical next steps? What are the priorities? What really needs to get them accomplished? How to fight the power of the rich bent on manipulating the uniformed with misinformation, especially given Citizens United is not going to be struck down by a conservative Supreme court.

December 6, 2016

Why did Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party not gain the White House and Congress?

Three years before this election, it appeared that Hillary Clinton would be the strongest Democratic candidate for President and the Democratic Party had an excellent chance to win the Senate, and gain back some of the lost state governorships and roughly 1000 legislative seats across the country that had been lost since 2010. The House was probably not winnable due to gerrymandering after the 2010 election. It was clear that demographically the Democratic Party was in the process of gaining electoral strength in the Southwest, and would have at least a national popular vote advantage, as well as a blue firewall across the Midwest in the electoral college.

So what happened? The GOP and its rich backers had a plan. Really a continuation of the plans they've had since the election of President Obama. They had blocked and then denigrated everything President Obama tried to do or did since he was elected, stirring their base with a barrage of misinformation via Fox, the internet and talk radio.

Then they identified Hillary Clinton as the key target early, and began attacking her through congressional investigations in 2013, complimented by their media and sympathizers to destroy her favorability and trustworthiness polling through slander and innuendo. And it worked. By mid 2015, they brought her favorability below 50% from over 60% in 2012, and below 40% by mid 2016, thanks to the FBI investigation, which they lucked out on, since it appeared to corroborate all of the nonsense they had brought to bear--- even though no charges were brought, the damage was done. What they hadn't counted on is that the GOP would nominate someone with even lower favorables. so Hillary was still leading in the polls throughout the whole cycle and went on to win the popular vote by 2%. It was Comey's last minute machinations which stole just enough momentum to swing the election.

What about the rest of the Democratic Party? It has been on the decline since 2010. Why? 1) organizational-- GOP and especially it's billionaire influenced organizations had a plan to take over local governments across the country with coordinated support, in order to gerrymander elections for a decade or more. See http://www.democraticunderground.com/1016164776 2) ideology--By means of their very powerful mass media and internet presence, the shadow of Reagan and the idea of government as evil has been growing even stronger and the idea of government serving the common good that has powered the Democratic Party since FDR has been steadily weakening. 3) attack ads and slander--Citizen's United gave even more power to those who know how to win by slandering their opponents. Examples, Strickland in Ohio and Feingold in WI were defeated after polling ahead of their opponents until the attack ads began. The ads began early on Strickland and he was basically out of the running by midsummer. The ads ran late against Feingold, who had a 10% lead as late as October 1, before being branded as part of the political "establishment" by a series of misleading ads. Given that most voters (maybe 60%) are relatively uninformed these tactics work well. 4) Weakening the top of the ticket. By weakening the top of the Democratic ticket, the GOP destroyed any coat tail effect that could have thrown a monkey wrench into their plans.

The GOP retained the Senate, only losing a few Senate and House seats and generally did better than expected.
So what can be done?
1) Match or exceed the GOP in local and state political organization.
2) Ideology. Need to strengthen communicating the message that the government can be an agent of hope and change, that is making our lives better economically and socially
3) Media and slanderous ads. Either need to reciprocate, or find a way to neutralize the power of the GOP smear machines

The wild card in any plans is Trump, whose effect is as unpredictable as he is himself

November 30, 2016

Which campaign slogan strikes the strongest chord?

Often that is what people remember and associate with the candidate. I couldn't remember McCain's or Romney's-- at first thought did they even have one, but I found them online. But which of these themes sounds most compelling? And why? How much of a role do slogans play? I think for President Obama and Trump... alot. And that it made a difference in their respective elections.

November 20, 2016

Negative painting works

Ask Mike Dukakis and his "running mate" Willie Horton, Al Gore "the inventor of the internet", or "swiftboated" John Kerry. Each was unfairly painted by the opposition. But Hillary Clinton faced far worse, because she actually faced the power of political witch hunting in Congress.

One lesson to never forget is that negative painting works very well indeed. Hillary Clinton's trust rating were destroyed by the GOP investigations and then by Comey and FBI investigations. Take a look at the graphic by mid 2015 she was in deep trouble.

(this graphic is from July)

Her trust rating was even lower (about 36%) when Comey struck two weeks before the election. The only reason she was leading the polls, was because Trump, a historically awful candidate, had an even lower trust rating. But then there was very little that could be done about Comey, he threw the election to Trump.

ps---I personally know of people who usually vote Democratic, who left their ballot blank for President and who could not be convinced to vote for Clinton. Very sad.

November 20, 2016

Looking forward: Democratic Outreach

If Democrats want to begin to take back the country from GOP control (Republicans control 67 of 98 partisan state legislative chambers, the Presidency, the Senate, the House, and soon the Supreme Court), it's time to begin outreach to potential Democratic voters.

What strategies will be in play? Incoming Senate Minority Leader Schumer appears to favor a progressive/populist approach judging by his support of Hon. Keith Ellison for DNC Chair and Bernie Sanders as chair of the Senate Steering and Outreach committee. His choice of Sanders seems obvious given the excitement generated by his 2016 campaign among young and disaffected voters. That is a beginning, but there needs to be more. The Democratic Party's most thoughtful and motivational politicians and advocates need to work now to set in motion the political change necessary to deny Trump and the GOP the decimation of the federal government that they so desire. It's already clear that the GOP will be able to neuter or destroy the ACA using budget reconciliation, and probably can use similar reconciliation against any government agency or program they dislike. As should be obvious, it's always more difficulty to destroy than to build, so the damage will be long-lasting. The ACA required a super majority in the Senate to pass, and who knows when that will next happen.

So what next? There is another Democratic politician who has outstanding outreach skills: Barack Obama. I sincerely hope he can be convinced to join the battle. Please join with me in writing to President Obama to help create a comprehensive plan for the future of Democratic Party politics and then participate in the critical outreach through personal appearances. I for one can't wait to see President Obama and Senator Sanders together on the campaign trail for change.

November 18, 2016

Poll: Hypothetical Obama versus Trump in 2016 (electoral college)

To better understand what happened, it would be very interesting to compare Clinton versus Trump with a hypothetical Obama versus Trump election. In this way, we can compare factors, Obama does not face sexism, but more directly faces racism. Obama would be considered the candidate of the status quo, not change. Obama did face years of negative painting by the GOP, like Clinton, but was not under FBI investigation or Russian/Wikileak attack, etc. You can assume Sanders ran in the primary as well if you like.

For all these factors I personally believe that President Obama had he been allowed to run constitutionally, he would have won in an electoral college landslide. So please vote and provide your reasoning and how it impacts our understanding of the 2016 election in the electoral college.

November 16, 2016

One of Hillary Clintons top aides nailed exactly why she lost

One of Hillary Clinton’s top aides nailed exactly why she lost
By Chris Cillizza November 14 at 1:42 PM

"In The Washington Post's terrific oral history of the 2016 presidential campaign, there's a quote from Hillary Clinton media consultant Mandy Grunwald that is remarkably prescient. Responding to a question about how Clinton could lose despite being ahead in every traditional measure of the campaign, Grunwald said: "How it will happen would be that the desire for change was greater than the fear of [Donald Trump], the fear of the risk. .?.?. That’s something we talked about very early on — how do we make sure that people aren’t comfortable making that leap because they’d like to go for change. . . . The question is what’s the more salient question when they go vote."

That's it. That's the election in a nutshell: change vs. risk......
Why did Clinton lose, then? Because no one understood just how much people wanted change and how big a risk they were willing to take to put someone way outside of the political system into the White House.

[summarizing: only 38 percent of voters vs 52% for Clinton said that Trump was "qualified" to be president;
only 35% said that Trump had a presidential temperament vs Hillary at 55%. Voters knew that Trump was dishonest 66% said he was dishonest vs 64% for Clinton.]

* One in three voters said Trump was honest and trustworthy (36 percent said the same of Clinton).
But, the desire for change last Tuesday was bigger than any worries Clinton was able to raise about Trump. Four in 10 voters said the most important character trait in deciding their vote was a candidate who "can bring needed change" to Washington. Of that group, Trump won 83 percent to Clinton's 14 percent — 83 to 14!!!!"
Since this came from a top Clinton campaign consultant, it's clear that the campaign knew what they were up against. There is little doubt that Comey was the difference maker, but if Trump hadn't captured the mantra of change, then there is good chance that Hillary would have still won. Unfortunately, her team knew that they couldn't use that theme, since she has a long political history in Washington coming in.

postscript: there are many stories similar to this one, ascribing the desire for change as a critical factor. Apparently even President Obama agrees that this theme played a key role:

from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/16/world/europe/obama-trump-nationalism-europe.html
Visiting Europe, Obama Warns Against Rise of ‘Crude Sort of Nationalism’

"Mr. Obama was unapologetic and unequivocal on his record of inclusiveness.

“So my vision’s right on that issue,” he said. “And it may not always win the day in the short term in any particular political circumstance, but I’m confident it will win the day over the long term.”

Mr. Obama said that the desire for change was a huge factor in Mr. Trump’s victory.

“Sometimes people just feel as if we want to try something to see if we can shake things up, and that I suspect was a significant phenomenon,” he said.

November 8, 2016

After losing, does Trump go around the country calling himself the "Real President"?

"Trump holds one final rally in Michigan. Unless he decides to keep going."

Holly Bailey
"It’s that addiction to the adulation of crowds that has led many around him to wonder what happens next to a candidate who has been feeding off that emotional high for more than a year. If he wins, Trump will be expected to get down to the serious business of governing, which is far different than campaigning. And if he loses, can Trump walk away from his need to be on the political stage? This is a question that even those closest to him cannot answer."
One of the biggest unknowns heading into Tuesday is how Trump will react should his quest for the presidency come up short. In recent weeks, the candidate — who has, by his own admission, never been a good loser — has raised the specter of a “rigged” election and has suggested he might not easily accept the result if he loses.

That has prompted some close to the candidate to question whether Trump might simply go on campaigning. There have been rumors that Trump is eying the creation of a political action committee or other organization to keep his political brand going and to settle scores with those who he believes slighted him during the campaign. But so far, Trump has declined to say specifically what he will do if he doesn’t win."

I can just see it now. Trump crisscrossing the country for the next 4 years as the "Real President" Donald Trump, pretending to be the shadow President.

November 6, 2016

So this year we get an October Surprise and a November Surprise!

Lets see how much damage the November surprise undoes.

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