Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Fighting for What?

Some seem to be laboring under the misconception that Mitt Romney lost in 2012 because he didn't "fight" hard enough.  In reality, Governor Romney ran a disciplined campaign and  launched a number of attacks against President Obama.  Where the governor struggled was his ability to convince working-class Americans that his agenda would help them; exit polls suggest that his underperformance with working-class and middle-class voters likely cost Romney the election.

This has implications for the current presidential race.  Donald Trump is fighting hard--and not just with Hillary Clinton.  Yet, despite all this fighting, he continues to sink in the polls.  Clinton's 3-point lead in early October has grown to a 7-point one, according to RCP.  Trump's major polling deficits are in questions about his temperament and judgement; the groups he struggles with are women and college-educated votes.  Without improving his standing with those voters, it's hard to see how he wins the White House.  Lashing out at all comers might provide a momentary frisson, but it's unclear if such a strategy provides that many electoral benefits.

Anger is rarely a foundation for a national political coalition.  For those seeking elected office, fighting is less important than working to build a winning coalition.

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