Next Monday, September 5th, is Labor Day. It used to be considered the unofficial start of presidential election campaigns. There was always a big rally in Detroit for the Democratic candidate. I do not recall if there was a comparable Republican event – perhaps on Wall Street?
But that was in the days when presidential campaigns did not really get going until at least January of the election year. By this past January the current presidential cycle had already been running for 8 or 9 months.
Donald Trump’s fourth campaign manager (Corey Lewandowski; Jared Kushner; Paul Manafort; Kellyanne Conway) recently suggested that Labor Day is still the unofficial start date of the 2016 campaign. For Team Trump this would be pivot 15.3. If Ms. Conway or anyone else actually believes that Labor Day starts the 2016 campaign they must have been living in a cave since the spring of 2015.
I have been observing presidential elections for an awfully long time, and I dare say a number of this blog’s readers have too. Thankfully we are approaching the end of campaign, not the beginning.
Voter opinions at this point in time have hardened as much as reinforced concrete. If allowed early voting, the vast majority of Trump or Hillary Clinton voters would have likely and gladly voted for their candidate on July 28 (the last day of the Democratic convention) or even sooner. The only major question to ponder was, how long would it take for the portions of the respective party bases that had not supported Clinton or Trump to move to support them?
Opinion polls show that most of the far-left Democratic base has accepted the need to support Clinton, helped to some degree by the endorsement of Senator Bernie Sanders. On the other hand, the “establishment” portion of the Republican base has been drawn in, kicking and screaming. Some prominent party leaders (who have no intention of ever running for office) have walked away from Trump. Some of them are (gasp!) even supporting Hillary. I am not aware of any noticeable Democratic defections to Trump.
The interesting thing about what is going on is how willing the respective party bases may be to compromising their positions. The extreme wings of both parties usually pride themselves on not bending their principles to compromise.
The far left found it a bit easier to accept Clinton and her positions on many issues because Clinton and her team were willing to make concessions in the party platform concerning education, health care, the reform of the party’s method of selecting its presidential candidate, and other issues.
The far right found it more difficult to accept Trump because he is really not a conservative. He is really a chameleon willing to tell his supporters what they want to hear; that is, he is being politically correct. That is why Ted Cruz is off doing his own thing, and Congressmen like Steve King and Mark Sanford have drawn some lines in the sand on Trump.
The result of these moves is seen in the polls. More than 90 percent of Democrats support Clinton. About 80 percent of Republicans support Trump.
There are, of course, degrees of support for both candidates, ranging from enthusiastic, to mildly supportive, to “I hate the other candidate, so I have no choice.” The third possibility may be the biggest portion of voters on both sides.
National Democrats have not had a “digging-in-the-heels” resistance to such things as congressional legislation and judicial nominations. Granted, that is easier when the party is in the congressional minority.
Republican members of Congress, even while holding the majorities of both houses, have been willing to shut down the government and run the country’s finances to the brink of default on things like budgets and extending the debt. That is because there is a sizable block of House members, known as the Freedom Caucus, who can twist the Republicans in knots. They do this “on principle,” on claims of superior understanding of the Constitution, and because compromise is a dirty word.
Except that in 2016 the far right, including what remains of the Tea Party, has been compromising like crazy.
- We honor veterans, but we can accept saying that John McCain is not a hero, or that a Gold Star family is just being political.
- We support a strong country, but we’ll go along with breaching 70-year-old international alliances like NATO.
- We welcome the support of minorities, but we need to make it harder to register to vote and to exercise the right to vote.
- We support the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom, but maybe not for all religions.
- We oppose other nations threatening our system of government, but we don’t have a problem with the Russkies trying to breach our political process. Where is Dick Nixon when you need him?
And most of all now, the wall at the Mexican border, those criminals pouring over the border, the need for mass deportation – they knew those stances were only for show. Even their beloved leaders, Limbaugh and Coulter, have assured everyone that those were only campaign tactics intended to demolish the other 16 Republican candidates. Trump’s position on immigration, they tell us, was always going to change. It does not mean a thing. But wait — another pivot last evening in Phoenix to the fire-and-brimstone get-them-out-of-the country approach.
Who would have thought a year ago that all those died-in-the-wool tea-partying conservatives would so easily concede their doctrinaire principles for the sake of the election? Is there nothing sacred anymore?
Some other stuff
- As the end of August approached emails flooded in from candidates and supporters asking for money before the next all important campaign filing deadline, which will be followed by even more deadlines at the end of September and October. They all projected doom and gloom unless some arbitrary goal is achieved, such as another $173,564 in donations in the next eight hours, or ten more donors from Buffalo.
- The notes came from Hillary Clinton; Donald Trump; their families; Barack and Michelle Obama; Mike Pence; Tim Keane; John Kasich; Ted Cruz; Karl Rove; Trey Gowdy; Sheriff Joe Arpaio; Marco Rubio; John McCain; Rob Portman; Mark Kirk; Nancy Pelosi; Paul Ryan; and various party leaders.
- The one from Paul Ryan that arrived on August 31st had a particular ominous and apparently newsworthy note to it:
- The last 30 days have been tough for Republicans. First, we saw a huge bounce in Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers following the Democratic convention. Then, the latest FEC reports show Nancy Pelosi outraising House Republicans by nearly 3X. And now, the latest poll numbers show Hillary Clinton leading in 54 districts held by Republicans. I’m concerned that if we don’t change course right now, we may look back at August as the month where we lost the election. If dedicated conservatives like you don’t step up right now, the consequences could be disastrous
- This is the first I’ve read from anyone, Republican or Democrat, that something like 54 House seats might be threatened.
Secretary of Commerce designee Congressman Chris Collins seems to be backing away from the virtual or even a real wall. The Washington Post reported on August 31st that Collins, “Trump’s first congressional endorser, said in an interview that he is hopeful Trump will lay out a position that allows illegal immigrants who have otherwise followed the law to stay in the country legally. “That’s what my dairy and crop farmers are asking for,” Collins said, adding: “We were never going to put all these folks — have them come out of the shadows, willingly get on a bus, go back to Mexico and hope to get back.” He said he also expects Trump to lay out his proposals for border security, including building a physical wall. Collins said he was corrected after he suggested recently that Trump may end up building a “virtual wall.” “I got my hand a slapped on the wall, and so I’m never going to say that again,” Collins said.
- Gee Chris, the Trump speech last night in Phoenix seemed to say “too bad for your dairy and crop farmers.”
- Local TV and radio stations must be smiling about the fact that candidates are buying air time. That includes John Flynn, Michael Flaherty, and Chris Jacobs on TV, Senate candidate Tom Loughran and incumbent Mike Ranzenhofer on the radio.
- Projections for the upcoming football season are showing up, and they certainly don’t do anything to warm the hearts of long suffering Bills fans. Both the Buffalo News and Sports Illustrated have the Bills finishing 8 and 8. This kind of makes you long for the good old days of Doug Marrone, when the team finished 9 and 7 and there was still a chance of making the networks’ “In the Hunt” standings in December. More on our beloved team next week.