Friday, August 19, 2016

A comment on the US electoral situation

I don't normally comment on these issues, but the dynamics is becoming too obvious at this point.

It is clear from the persistent trends in the polling data that Donald Trump's strategy for courting resentment and the social animus has failed to reach out to sufficient people to assure his electoral victory. Even traditionally republican states are now swinging towards the blue. Whatever the underlying principles of the Trump campaigns were they are no longer valid and the strategy has reached the end of its utility.

Barring a miracle, Donald Trump is not likely to win this election. Seeing as miracles always possible but not predictable - it is reasonable for both the Trump family and the Republican Party to do things to limit losses.

The Republican party will need to focus on various senate re-election races. In order to distract voters from the fractured state of the party - the Republicans will have to make Hillary Clinton look bad. That is the only thing that will make their traditional votaries look away from the carnage of the last year. However making Hillary look bad when she is almost certain to be president is a dangerous game. If the move backfires she will make life very difficult for the GoP in Congress and the Senate. The GoP cannot afford a direct confrontation with Hillary.

What holds true for the GoP also holds true for Donald Trump. Donald Trump cannot afford any direct bad blood with the Clintons who are his family friends. It is one thing to insult a random Muslim but you can't expect to function in New York City high society and have a bad relationship with the Clintons. They are too powerful and they have way way too many powerful friends in the city. Not even Donald Trump can afford that kind of aggro.

Donald Trump may be making a killing on royalties for his books and merchandise right now, but if he is to remain a viable business entity in the foreseeable future - he has to fix the damage to the brand. No brand can survive exposed to toxic agendas for such an extended period of time. If Trumps brand is to survive - he has to distance himself from all this race and religious hostility. He still has massive business interests in the so-called Muslim world, he can't afford to carry this baggage with him.

Against this background it is easy to see a point of convergence between the Trump agenda and the GOP. That IMO is what Steve Bannon is.  Steve (if we take Ben Shapiro's statements at face-value) is keenly interested in pushing his own brand of Jean Paul Marat style journalism. With Bannon in place in the Trump campaign, the entire load of vilifying Hillary can be shifted to the writing staff at Brietbart. The staff at Brietbart have a lot of experience in running that sort of thing.

With the anti-Hillary publicity created via Brietbart and other Trump campaign surrogates, the GoP can hope to ride the anti-Hillary wave into Congress and Senate.

With the entire anti-Hillary stuff being outsourced to Bannon and his valkyries, Donald Trump can focus on repairing the damage done to his brand by his own style.

I don't think either Donald Trump or the GoP expects Bannon or his Valkyries to survive a frontal assault on Hillary. My understanding is that the only thing Bannon has control over that anyone in either the Trump side or the GoP cares about is that data-spider that runs out of "Tony's room" in the GAI. Outside of that - no one really cares about Bannon or anyone else at the Breitbart mansion. I wouldn't be too surprised if Steve thinks he can pull a major strike on the Clinton campaign off - but I really doubt even he truly cares what happens.

If all goes as planned then - whatever happens in November - the entire process will leave Donald Trump, the GoP and maybe Steve Bannon in a better place (economically and brand wise).

Again barring a miracle - I suppose the Donald Trump fans will be disappointed and I am not sure what will happen to all those people who think he is the "last hope for (whatever)", but I suppose given the history these people have being screwed over by the machine - I guess they will simply have to find another "last hope" and carry on somehow.

I worry what residual effects this will leave in ethnic subnationalism in the US. These ethnic stuff has been kept under control, but I am not sure how this is going to play out if the Trump and the GoP leave these votaries high and dry.


At 8:43 AM, Blogger amberG said...

In Primary, I promised to my family that we will move out of out state if people of my state voted for DT. Fortunately for me, he did NOT win . (Mine is the only state where a reasonable Rep, IMO, was elected). Now if voters in US are stupid enough to elect DT then we will move out of US. (Have not decided yet if this will be India or NZ). Hope we don't have to. (Five-thirty-eight predicts 90%+ chance that we would not)

I had a long conversation with staff of the Republican senator who is running again from our state. Normally he would win. (For last 25+ years he has been in public service, have been very popular and won all his election by wide margins), But we told him we will not support him unless he "un-endorses" DT. I was told by the staff that we were not alone and even many supporters of him are sending him the same message. He has made it a point to never appear or try to support DT but has NOT explicitly unendorsed him yet. Though many prominent Republicans have.

As one paper regularly puts it: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims from entering the U.S. -- Not fit.

Actually I will boycott any state where DT gets majority.

At 12:53 PM, Blogger Ralphy said...

it is usually useless to discuss politics on a blog because nobody is going to change their mind no matter what is said.

but I would like to point out some inaccuracies.

1. DT wanted to temporarily ban Muslims until a vetting process was installed. Not for a permanent ban. I don't think it would work but for accuracy's sake that's beside the point.

2. Most of the political violence to date has been against DT supporters out side of conventions such as what happened at San Jose. the violence was sanctioned by the police and they did not interfere. Other violence occurred at Sacramento where people were stabbed and slashed and beaten with baseball bats. The US Department of Justice had no problem with with the violence at either of these events.

3. Hillary may win but I doubt if she will have control of congress. I am willing admit I could be wrong about. Pobody is nerfect.

4. You will be boycotting quite a few states.

At 1:05 PM, Blogger Ralphy said...

My main critique of DT is this: He will gut our tax system which the repubs will happily go along with.

what does this mean?.........greatly reduced federal services for health and human welfare.

there has to be some benefit to being an American citizen for all not just the elites.

more on his later.....

At 1:14 PM, Blogger Ralphy said...

Hillary is playing a dirty game also...pandering to black violence saying it's all due to white racism when black on white violence is skyrocketing (especially to Asian owned businesess) robberies and shootings, beatings, etc.

She is as dirty as they come when peddling inflence.

I'm not voting for either one.

At 7:22 AM, Blogger maverick said...

I don't think there is any data that support a major shift in black on white violence. There are some nascent trends in a few places where the African Americans are unrepresented in the police force and where certain stereotypes are strong. This is causing anxiety and distrust of police organizations. This is very normal given the gradual demographic shifts in the US.

Naturally the issue is being politicized by both sides and in the process neither the interests of the affected communities, nor the interests of the police departments are really being served. I don't expect this climate to subside even if Donald Trump is elected. This is just where the US is right now.

I think the media is misinterpreting the recent "pivot". This pivot has nothing to do with the November election cycle. We are seeing in the pivot is actually attempts to salvage the Trump brand. The manner in which the campaign is "apologizing" (as vaguely as possible) and the "TBD" on the extreme immigration posture is indicative of the magnitude of the desperation. I would anticipate them to push away from the stated position on Muslims even further. To some extent the campaign has stepped back - but I feel they will fully retreat from this before the week is out.

I realize that maintaining sizable wealth is challenging, perhaps the Trumps would be better off funding Cancer research or something like that - that might help people forget all the terrible things that have been said in the recent months. This vague apology and random backpeddling is not going to cut it. Too much of the public trust has been damaged by the idiotic flip-flopping on emotionally hot issues.

At 5:37 PM, Blogger amberG said...
Enjoy - About 10 minutes if you like John Oliver's show.

At 4:58 AM, Blogger maverick said...

And now we see "Judicial Watch" who stellar and impartial review of "facts" brought us many wonderful insights into the inner workings of DC have launched yet another alpha strike on the Clinton Foundation.

If all goes according to plan, this will set the target will be suitably "softened" for a Brietbart's "reporters" to carve out a beachhead.

The GOP is left with so little room to meaningfully maneuver on political issues, they have no choice but to resort to this kind of "imaginative" stuff to buy themselves space. The situation is particularly bad in traditional GOP strongholds where a combination of demographic shifts, hype-fatigue and failure to address economic angst is drawing voters away from traditional GOP agenda.

At 5:17 AM, Blogger maverick said...

FWIW after all that folks in Louisiana have been saying about President Obama, I don't think think - in all fairness - they can really expect him to come riding to their rescue now.

Those flood affected folks are completely on their own now.

Louisiana does not have the money, and any federal relief will be very slow to come.

I guess once you have made your bed, you have to lie in it - even if it is underwater.

At 9:14 AM, Blogger amberG said...

WSJ Article about Survey Shows How Indian-Americans Plan to Vote in the U.S. Election

At 7:34 AM, Blogger maverick said...

Trump's appeal is certainly stronger in some demographics, I am not sure what to make of the responses in the Indian American vertical. The sample sizes are small and dominated by people with a college degree.

I am deeply concerned that ordinary people who have set their hearts on Trump being their "last best chance" at real change will become very disappointed with the outcome of the election.

Perhaps a crucial point to monitor is the reception of his "base" to the shift in position on illegal immigration. Everyone knows that there is no solution to the problem of illegal immigration, the cost of "doing something" (anything really) is far far more than the cost of sitting on your ass and enjoying the benefits of cheap labor.

Nations far richer and smaller than the US have struggled with these questions only to conclude that sitting on your ass and exploiting the illegal immigrants is economically better than getting carried away with misguided bullshit on immigration control. The really smart ones don't even bother with visas and let anyone and everyone stream across borders because that is cheaper than operating the visa printing machines.

This reality should be available to anyone who seeks it (including Trump who am sure knows it but insists on pandering to the crowd in this way) but I don't think Trump supporters will be able to accept Trump's position change on immigration as real. They will go into denial that it is really happening and try to come up with innovative ways of saying Trump still favors Final Solution style measures on the immigration issue.

The more I look at this election, the more I feel there a million different ways for Trump to win this election and he did exactly none of those things.

I can't for the life of me - figure out why he is doing this or what the GOP has ever done to him - for him to want to take it down so badly.

At 5:23 AM, Blogger maverick said...

It is important to recognize there is a cult like element to Donald Trump's political movement. The manner in which his "core" followers behave leaves little room for any other label. For the sake of completeness, Hillary Clinton (and Bill too) has a similar cult following in certain demographics.

In a messianic cult, when the leaders shifts position on an issue, the followers have to determine whether they want to stay engaged with the cult or to leave the cult.

So Donald Trump's apparent softening of his posture on immigration issues will produce a similar "stay or leave" pressure inside it.

A savvy political operator can use this kind of pressure to their advantage. Again this is an extremely risky policy but one can shed an extreme position and secure more *new* followers while losing a few *old* ones.

In Donald Trump's case the new followers could be minorities or young white professionals who as distrustful of the campaign. As some observers have pointed out on the internet, Donald Trump may have little to do with a desire to reach out to minorities and more to do with attracting middle class young white professionals who have since left his "movement". He may even be making a cynical calculation that these people will improve his current polling numbers and deflect the adverse attention those numbers have been bringing.

In Donald Trump's case the old followers he would lose would be the extreme white nationalists, who supported Donald because they felt he would bring the Fourth Reich into being. These are the people who are clinging to the Donald as "last best chance". Unfortunately such millenarist cults cannot sustain alliance with someone who shifts so quickly on their core position. They will have to leave if their current leadership is to sustain itself.

The problem with alienating extremists is that they are usually very violent and quite unpredictable. The example of Malcolm X comes to mind in these matters. Malcolm started by advocating extreme positions on Black racial dominance but when he moderated his position to become more inclusive of racial equality - the very extremists he created shot him dead.

If a sign of serious disaffection emerges in the extreme parts of the Donald Trump movement, then there will be significant security concerns that will have to be addressed.

If no sign of a serious disaffection emerges from the extreme wings of the Donald Trump movement, then one will have to question whether he has done something to assure them that these shifts he is putting out are essentially false and he remains uncompromising on the immigration issue.

There are two groups to watch - the first is the American Nazi party, and the second is David Duke's guys. If they still stick with Donald Trump - that should tell you something about whether Donald's shift on immigration is real or simply smoke and mirrors.

At 8:35 AM, Blogger maverick said...

Three interesting developments

1) Ann Coulter was completely blind sided by Donald Trump's apparent reversal of immigration policy postures. She is now breaking with Donald Trump and if she holds to her views stated in the book - Trump's reversal on immigration will be an unacceptable breach of trust.

2) The Hillary Clinton Campaign has chosen to go on the offensive by openly stating that it sees Brietbart as "alt-right" or a conspiratorial fringe. This makes sense - the Hillary Clinton campaigns interests are better served by striking Brietbart before its gets going on either the "Judicial Watch" allegation or the latest leak from Julian Assange.

3) Almost on cue Julian Assange is getting ready to release more Hillary Clinton data.

It appears that the failure of the "Hillary's Failing Health" attack has led to some reassessment on Steve Bannon's front. Steve appears to be realizing that he cannot conduct operations in the usual way because the Brietbart articles will receive far more scrutiny in the context of a general election. By contrast as the primaries and other random votes go, the Brietbart articles are not subject to as much fact-checking and the staff can get away with very little actual digging. In order to make this all work Steve needs a real piece of data that will stand up to scrutiny by anyone - absent such a data point - the much awaited Brietbart assault on the Hillary Campaign will never materialize.

The invisible deadline for this is the first debate in two weeks. If no such indisputable fact emerges in either "Tony's data" or Julian's leakbase - the entire Bannon operation is completely dead.

At 8:57 AM, Blogger maverick said...

On a related note:

The only reason the GOP leadership went along with Donald Trump was because they felt it would make it easier to win the Senate and Congressional elections. Those seats have come under a lot of pressure due to the collective failure of the GOP in the senate and congress. The GOP has come up so short of the hype it perpetrated- there is a genuine lack of trust between the GOP and its votaries. Without a loss leader like Donald Trump to absorb all that negativity - there is no pathway for the GOP to survive another decade.

If Donald can't deliver that pathway to them, they will not have any interest in Donald Trump. Whether he becomes President or not is secondary from the perspective of the RNC. If he does - that is great - if not - c'est la vie. All Donald has to do is produce the necessary levels of public support for the GOP.

Steve Bannon has been accorded a great deal of legitimacy by his elevation to this position of CEO. He has no relevant credentials, the only thing going in his favor is his ability to drum up support using his newspaper. He is being given a chance to deliver something that either helps Donald or helps the GOP directly. If he can't produce a single shred of negative fact that can be pinned to Hillary - Bannon is over and so is Donald Trump and so is the GOP.

There is a great deal riding on Steve's success. People like Ann Coulter know this and feel that if Steve can't produce - the entire conservative agenda will be completely shut down.

Unfortunately for Steve, he can't use Brietbart alone to push any facts he finds. Brietbart is a sharp but overused knife. He will have to route the bulk of the attack via other media - more *mainstream* media channels.

I don't see a clear path to doing that. The MSM is so heavily inoculated against the ideas from Brietbart that there is no transport of ideas between them. And to make matters worse the Trump surrogates have gone on the MSM channels and incompetently wasted the airtime. I have never seen a less sensible and competent bunch of surrogates - mixing up dates, not being seized of the facts, attacking the presenter, attacking co-hosts. The surrogates have completely scorched the earth. This is the result of a very shoddy management of messaging.

I can't figure out how Steve is going to produce any data that people find credible - even in his own limited target audience.

At 5:25 AM, Blogger maverick said...

There is no way he can hold his own against Hillary Clinton in a policy heavy discussion. Donald Trump has no policy experience or understanding and only opens his mouth on policy when it is pre-programmed into the teleprompter. When there is no teleprompter - Hillary will dominate the debate.

His best game move right now is to distract the debate with irrelevant points that derail Hillary Clinton as she attempts to strike hammer blows with her command of policy issues and specifics.

Unless Trump can put up some sort of fight at the debates, he is going to take a major hit to his brand.

There is a soft option of avoiding the debate - but I do not know if that is better or worse than the going up against Hillary and losing.

Anything Steve Bannon can dig out of his GAI database will prove an asset to Donald Trump because he can spring that on Hillary and hope that it deflects her blows on him.

At 4:58 AM, Blogger maverick said...

A very predictable shift in Donald's position on immigration.

His only chance of appealing to college educated white voters is to reach out the ones who feel displaced by legal immigration.

This demographic has always existed especially in the software industry where there is a lot of pressure from Indian and Chinese immigrants. In this industry I feel there is a sense of paranoia among non-immigrant employees that their jobs will be outsourced. It is a valid fear but there are so many subtleties when you actually try to outsource something, that it becomes quite expensive to do so.

I wonder how much outreach Donald is going to get in this demographic. I wouldn't be surprised if his poll numbers improve. He is the champ of tapping into angst. I can't see why he won't be able to reach into these anxieties.

That being said, I am increasingly coming to the conclusion that the Donald loves being overleveraged. There are far cheaper positions that could easily win him this election, and yet he pursues investments that are punishingly high risk-reward propositions.

I don't understand this fascination with risk, it is all too reminiscent of the Venezuelan Hugo Chavez who would consistently find the hardest ways of doing the simplest thing.


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