artium and moribus

The Trumpian Kerfuffle


By David Beilstein

ROMNEY! Something’s wrong! Problems!

Says the hot gas of a consummate arriviste. Donald Trump, 66, in typical puerile style, gave a hearty bombastic shout to team Romney and FOX news’ Morning Show. The Washington Times reported Trump’s legion of concern, here. No doubt, the billionaire developer’s animus and concern over the wrecking ball effect of President Obama’s policies on the economic mesa of America has etiolated the Trumpian entheos.

Further, there is little doubt in my mind team Romney needs to winnow its communicative outflow better. Communication, then, being immensely important to the success of a political campaign — becoming all important in presidential politics. Still, the demand to see the exact blood pressure of voter discontent with President Obama sounds good — it resonates emotionally for people who are not in favour of a second term for the history making incumbent. The problem, for me, is that leafing through modern political history reveals Romney is almost in the same position poll wise, and campaign wise, with two other challengers to presidential reelection efforts.

Gov. Ronald Reagan in 1980, and Gov. Bill Clinton in 1992.

Neither candidate, Reagan or Clinton — were trouncing the incumbent competition in polls. Slim leads, folks. And when it comes to trouncing, no poll showed either Reagan or Clinton leading in the polls by landslides. However, both governors won landslides technically. Reagan stuck and moved for 489 electoral votes, and Clinton parried for 370.

Indeed, there were polls showing Gov. Ronald Reagan of California down eight points in the early to mid October. I would imagine if Trump is jittery now — and he supported Gov. Reagan, Trump must have been on the pot shivering in cold sweats in October of 1980.

Going! back may be useful. Time magazine and Newsweek ran numerous features about a Reagan campaign adrift in clichés, bewildered — more flaccid then viral, etc. We know what happened. Voters sympathetic for the victories Reagan and Clinton won now put such presidential trivia out of sight and out of mind. Instead of historical perspective, voters worry, spring, — and spew hot kerosene in the case of Donald Trump.

If Romney wins a landslide, don’t expect to see it revealed in the polling data. It doesn’t happen — not recently.

Gov. Reagan beat President Carter by something like 51-41%. Clinton beat Bush 43-37%. Even during election night, for Bush-Clinton, it was close, especially after Bush held Florida. The polls for both elections remained tight all the way to election night. Landslides, at least in our modern political zeitgeist, do not reveal the shape, form, and substance of an approaching electoral avalanche.

The Reagan-Carter and Bush-Clinton models are good for our current electoral epoch because both elections saw bad economies, seemingly getting worse, being the main issues. The electorate threw out the incumbents without a wink or nod — it wasn’t close on election day! — regardless of what polls revealed was a single digit race, almost up for grabs.

It would seem wise to see the polls as the spirit of how things are shaping … not the detailed reality. Today, Romney’s lead still grips reality. And, like previous elections where the models were similar, that lead is not ginormous.

Trump appears to be scratching an itch unknown. But looking back on history reveals to us that Mitt Romney being up a few points now is good for his fortunes, bad for Obama’s, electorally. The media, as many did today on MSNBC, routinely assume Obama’s reelection. It could happen — many things could happen. Many things, too, don’t happen. But an Obama victory electorally becomes increasingly unlikely, and historically, it has not happened with the numbers Obama’s bringing into the ring.

History matters. It’s a record and a flow of how the intangibles of life typically unfold. That’s more important than polling data because polling data does not observe all the machinations and nuances of life. Political junkies desirous to see the miasma of the economy at the behest of Obama policies in the polls are going to be waiting a long time.


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