Both Parties nominating conventions have concluded. Now, it's a 100-day sprint to Election Day. The polls are all over; Clinton by a safe margin, Trump by a little, tied. Who will win?
A friend remarked; "It's usually the side with the 'optimistic' view that wins the White House." He saw Democrats as more hopeful. Reflectively, I added there are two telling measures. Optimism is one, but likability measured by the question, Who would rather have a beer with? is equally predictive.
Fissures in both parties were evident in Cleveland and Philadelphia. Calls for unity rang throughout. How unified either party is, remains to be seen. Most of the media labeled Trump's convention "dark."
Polls continue to show 70-75 percent of Americans think the country is on the wrong track, in line with Trump's narrative. The latest quarterly data shows GDP at a disappointing 1.2 percent growth rate. Home ownership, which reached a record high during the Bush (43) administration, fell to a 50-year low. Whether the rule of law exists is debatable as police officers are under fire in multiple cities. Gruesome terror attacks around the globe come at a staggering pace.
Democrats simultaneously stated everything is great and in the next paragraph explained why we need Hillary to fix all the things that remain broken after eight years of the Obama administration and her four decades of public service. As optimistic as they tried to be, it didn't jibe with what most Americans are experiencing.
Both sides will work to raise the others negatives. Republicans in Cleveland were effective in prosecuting (sometimes literally, such as Chris Christie's speech) the case against Hillary. It's not a hard case to make.
In Philadelphia, Democrats made an equally effective case against Trump. Hillary can tout her experience, but it reminds us why 6 out of 10 don't trust her. Hillary may get a post-convention bounce, but it's unlikely she's more likable or trustworthy. Both sides effectively disqualified the other but fell short presenting an optimistic future.
Here's an unscientific look at each election (1960-2012). Who was Optimistic? Who would you rather have a beer with? Winner is listed first:
- 2012: Obama – Romney. Neither succeeded in optimism, but Obama was more likable and easily won the “have a beer with” question.
- 2008: Obama – McCain. Obama ran on “Hope.” McCain was crotchety. Obama won the beer test.
- 2000-04: G. W. Bush – Gore/Kerry. Bush repeatedly said “hopeful and optimistic.” Bush ran as an “every man.” Although Bush didn’t drink, it was easy to envision having a beer with him over elitists Gore and Kerry.
- 1996: Clinton – Dole. Ha, ha.
- 1992: Clinton – George H.W. Bush – Perot. Bubba easily. He felt our pain.
- 1988: GHW Bush – Dukakis. Bush gave an optimistic acceptance speech. Dukakis made himself less likable riding in the tank with the snoopy hat; in the debate, “Well, Bernie …” What Dukakis didn’t do to himself Lee Atwater finished off.
- 1984: Reagan – Mondale. Reagan only won 49 states?
- 1980: Reagan – Carter. In hindsight, the Reagan landslide was obvious.
- 1976: Carter – Ford. Carter worked hard to be likable and optimistic. Charisma wasn’t Ford’s strength.
- 1972/1968: Nixon – McGovern/Humphrey. It’s hard to see how Nixon won any election. He was uncomfortable around people and not likable. For those that doubt the Trump model, study Nixon. Perhaps the Democrats were that screwed up.
- 1964: Johnson – Goldwater. We probably haven’t had less likable candidates since Goldwater. Only in this election, both have negatives that are record setting.
- 1960: Kennedy – Nixon. The country would wait 20 years, until Reagan in 1980, for a candidate with as much charisma.
What does the past half century suggest for 2016? Hillary is trying to run on optimism. Is she the right messenger to change things for the better? She's running for Obama's third term. As effectively as Obama cast his tenure, 3 out of 4 Americans still say the country is on the wrong track. As Hillary herself also points out, she doesn't have the natural charisma of her husband or Barack Obama.
Neither candidate is authentically "optimistic." The “beer question” is a more interesting measure. I think Trump wins the "have a beer with," question (Despite he doesn't drink). Polling will measure the beer question soon. I have been unsure who will win in November. I told my friend who proposed the question on optimism that he has convinced me Trump will win the election.
Andy Bloom is a former communications director for Rep. Michael R. Turner, R-Ohio, and as operations manager has overseen content for talk radio 1210 WPHT, Philadelphia for the past eight years. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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