Looking into the Future: 2016 VP Debate Analysis

During the reality of what the 2016 presidential election has become, the vice-presidential debate last Tuesday seemed to fall short of the status quo. Mike Pence exerted a demeanor of calm collectedness, some might call a foil to Donald Trump’s personality throughout this election. Tim Kaine on the other hand, “was constantly on offense against Trump, according to political commentator Guy Benson.

The Vice-Presidential candidates took different, but effective approaches while on offense and defense. This made the outcome varied in the eyes of the American people. Whether in favor of Pence or Kaine, a majority of the polls supported the idea that this debate was a close call. Surprised? I wouldn’t be. When analyzing the motives of the VP hopefuls, it’s not shocking that Kaine and Pence had different reasons to claim victory over the debate.

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While Donald Trump took to twitter to provide commentary on the VP debate, other news outlets provided varying reports on the success of each of the VP hopefuls. 

Tim Kaine overall established stronger points through his, “relentless attacks on Trump.” Because Pence has been trying to establish himself as the polished version of the Trump campaign, (versus its more scandalous other half) Kaine wanted to force Pence to defend every controversial statement that Trump has made. He wanted to create a division between Pence and Trump so that the Hillary campaign can exploit that in the next debate. Kaine found the most success with this strategy on the issues of homegrown terrorism, and U.S. Russian relations. Pence expressed extremely critical views of the Russian President, which differs completely with Trump’s previous stances towards Putin and the Russian Government. Kaine’s strong offense, while helping to keep focus on Trump throughout the evening, came across as, “tough and aggressive, sometimes even nasty, and that’s the role Donald Trump is expected to play.” This allowed Pence a different kind of victory, one that is looking beyond the 2016 election.

For the most part, Pence was able portray himself as candid and, “calm” according to political analyst Bill Schneider. Although it was clear that Pence could not successfully mold a positive spin on Trump’s most concerning policies and opinions, he “defended himself well and refused to allow Kaine to drive a wedge between himself and Donald Trump.” Pence made a point to favor politeness in the face of Kaine’s tough offense. This was not necessarily in an effort to come across as more of a “gentleman,” but to establish a positive image that he can build on for a future presidential bid. New York Times reporter Ashley Parker presented the best analysis when she said,

     “For Pence, and certainly his aides, 2020 is definitely a calculation. He wants to defend Trump and be a loyal soldier. But he also needs to make sure that he emerges as a viable politician with a political future, should he and Trump not win in November.”

This debate should have left viewers with at least the following three questions. Will Clinton will build on Kaine’s efforts to divide the trump campaign? Will Trumps strategy adopt any of Pence’s traits in the upcoming debate? Will we see Mike Pence in a national election again, or will his association with the Trump legacy (whatever that will be) sink his oval office dreams?

~WDL

Barry Goldwater on Civil Rights

Throughout history, Barry Goldwater has been a figure that has symbolized segregation and prejudice. But was Goldwater really a racist, or was he the victim of political mudslinging during the 1964 presidential campaign?

There is no doubt that many of those who did not support Barry Goldwater saw him as a racist. Prominent baseball star Jackie Robinson is quoted calling Goldwater, ”a hopeless captive of the lunatic calculating right-wing extremists.” Even the leader of the Civil Rights movement, Martin Luther King Junior, predicted that if Barry Goldwater were elected then the United States would experience, “violence and riots, the like of which we have never seen before.”

The reason that Goldwater’s opposition was attacking him as a racist was because of his vote against the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Many historians now understand that Goldwater’s opposition to the bill was not fueled by racist demeanor, but constitutionalism. Dr. Lee Edwards makes the assertion that, “Goldwater, who had voted for the 1957 and 1960 civil rights bills, wanted to support the 1964 act but objected to two of its provisions: Title II (public accommodations) and Title VII (fair employment).”  He also didn’t vote for the act because he believed, “as a conservative… the federal government did not have the power to compel states to conform to its idea of racial equality, or to dictate to individuals whom they must associate with.” Goldwater defended himself by saying that the act, “does not require an employer to achieve any kind of racial balance in his work force by giving preferential treatment to any individual or group.” Noting that just as Goldwater feared, “preferential treatment, or affirmative action, mandated by government became general practice.”

It is also important to analyze Goldwater’s support for minorities. Before his political career had stepped onto the national stage, Goldwater flew aid missions to Navajo

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Sen. Barry Goldwater, a major general in the Air Force Reserve, climbs into an Arizona Air National Guard plane (AP).

reservations. Goldwater is even quoted saying, “the red man seemed as much—if not more—a part of Arizona and America as any white or black person.” Furthermore, Goldwater was a key figure in desegregating the Arizona Air National Guard, which was before Truman integrated the U.S. armed forces. As a city councilman he, “led the fight to end segregation in the Phoenix public schools.” (and if there is any doubt still out there, Goldwater was a registered member of the N.A.A.C.P)

 

Barry Goldwater was not a segregationist, a bigot, or a racist. He was however, a political extremist, and this is what fed into people’s opinions about him. It helped his opponents claims against regarding race seem more valid in the eyes of the American voters.

~WDL

First Debate- The Expected and Unexpected

During the presidential debate Monday night, Hillary Clinton appeared confident (if not a little haughty) but overall well prepared when compared with Donald Trump’s brash and aggressive attacks on her policies and abilities. When it came to trade concerns; however, Clinton surprisingly stumbled on what could have been an opportunity to give attention to her economic strategies. For what seemed like an obvious attacking point for Trump, Clinton had very little to say in defense of her trading policies.

Trump is not the first presidential hopeful that has brought up Clinton’s support for NAFTA and TPP. During the 2008 election, the Obama campaign made the same allegations as Trump did over Clinton’s trading policies. The Clinton campaign was quick to rebuttal saying that Clinton, “like everybody else…[was] not supposed to deviate from the position of the administration… and that certainly applies to a first lady.” At the time, Clinton also told The Huffington Post, “I believe in the general principles it [NAFTA] represented. But what we have learned is that we have to drive a tougher bargain. Our market is the market that everybody wants to be in. We should quit giving it away so willy-nilly. I believe we need tougher enforcement of the trade agreements we already have.” Both explanations would have been enough to curb Trumps accusations, but even her voting record would have backed her credibility against Trumps claims. In 2005, Clinton voted against the Central America Free Trade Agreement. In 2015 she opposed Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal.

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Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State with President Obama at a cabinet meeting. Clinton put herself at odds with the president over her stance against the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal that Obama’s administration was pushing for. Photo Credit: NYT

If the 2008 attacks on her trade policy started to cobweb in the back of Clinton’s memory, Bernie Sanders was able dust them off again. In Michigan, voters rallied behind Sanders when he called out Clinton for her “disastrous trade deals.” Ultimately this cost Hillary the Michigan primary.

Recently polls have even reminded Clinton that trade policy is an issue that concerns many Americans and is something that they associate with job loss. So with an issue as big as trade is for Clinton and her campaign, why was this the one subject she appeared weak on?

There are two equal explanations. The first is that Hillary may realize that she needs to do more to ensure voters that all of her economic policies are sound. A Pew Research Poll reported that a large number of Americans think that Trump is better qualified to improve the economy than Hillary. The second reason is that Clinton’s struggle with this policy is also Trumps most valuable selling point.

On trade, Clinton knows that, “Donald Trump is formidable.” Former top White House economist Jared Bernstein describes is best when he told the Washington Post that Trump, “is talking about something real, and he is making many points that people on the left have been making.” This makes it hard for Clinton’s policy’s to stand out against Trump’s flagship campaign platform.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks to reporters aboard his plane as he travels between campaign stops in Ohio

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks to reporters aboard his plane as he travels between campaign stops in Ohio. Photo Credit: Tyler Durden

The 2016 Election stands to be neck and neck as voters make their final decision in November. If Hillary Clinton wants to widen the gap and sustain her lead, she is going to have to revitalize her trading policies. The best thing she can do for her campaign is to establish a strong, pro-American business trade policy (she currently has none in here released economic policy explanations). She needs to run that platform until voters see her as competent when it comes to trade and ensuring availability of jobs for the American people. Then, when Trump questions her trustworthiness on her trade policy she needs to refer to her voting history in the past 4 years.

In many ways this election is still up for grabs. It will be interesting to see how both candidates secure their policies, their agenda and in the end their voters.

~WDL

Image is Everything Mr. President

The 1960 presidential election between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon set a new precedent on how politicians would approach campaigning in the modern era. Previously,  politicians enjoyed broad based constituents and long existing demographics, in the 1960s, counterculture movements, party disunity, and new technology forced those running for national office to rethink their campaign strategies. But what caused such a critical shift in political strategy? Many scholars attribute age, religion, and new technology to be the catalysts that brought about modern campaign. Gary Donaldson’s book The First Modern Campaign: Kennedy, Nixon, & the Election of 1960, delves into these issues and their effect on politics. Generally, Donaldson’s correlations and analysis are well founded and logical. Donaldson develops a complex narrative on how the election of 1960 reshaped presidential campaigning; however, he also misinterprets how the effect of candidates’ “personal image,” was limited to this and subsequent elections.

Personal image in the sense that the book takes it, is the persona that the candidate hopes to make the public trust and support. The idea that a candidate should take active steps to cultivate and ensure that a positive persona is formed within their constituents was not an idea new to the 1960 campaigns. This idea can been seen throughout FDR’s presidency for example. Although plagued with the degenerative effects of polio, Roosevelt worked hard to maintain a strong physical image when presenting himself to the American people. Press conferences would not show FDR’s struggle with being wheelchair bound, nor would newspapers post pictures of him with leg braces on. It was important for the president’s personal image that he be shown as someone with the physical fortitude to withstand the Germans in the West, and the Japanese in the East.

One might also consider the image candidate’s created for party alliances. No elections shows this in such prevalence as the election of 1840. This election was the first national victory for the Whig party, and the campaign in particular was unique in that, “popular and emotional appeal was organized on an unprecedented scale.” The Whig’s candidate William Henry Harrison portrayed himself as a “Hard Cider and Log Cabin candidate,” in an effort to mark himself in line with the sympathies of the common man.

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“The cover of the Hard Cider and Log Cabin Almanac of 1841 depicts presidential candidate William Henry Harrison and his running mate John Tyler.” Bettmann Images

 

 

Although the powdered nose persona of the Kennedy campaign, and the incorporation of new media did have an effect on the election process since 1960, to mark the idea of personal image as one limited to this era would be a misrepresentation of the American presidency. Personal image has been a concern of candidates since the inception of the American system of government. The only factor that introduced such tremendous change into the political field in 1960 was the mode of delivery to which it reached the American people.

~WDL

Trump Pulls in the Gap Against Clinton

As the 2016 race for the White House approaches Election Day, political analysts are questioning where the numbers really stand, for Hillary Clinton as well as Donald Trump. Journalist John Cassidy analyzes the most recent polling numbers in his article in The New Yorker, titled, “The Election is Still Hillary Clinton’s to Lose.” In this article Cassidy does a decent job of informing his readers in a neutral undertone; however, he conveys an overarching main point that although Clinton is leading in the polls, Trump has been closing that gap for the past few months. Although Cassidy’s points are well developed and have value, his support and explanations do not always support his analysis of polling numbers.

This is especially noted in his stance on what Cassidy calls the “battleground states,” of Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. One might make the assertion that Trump has appeared to successfully move Pennsylvania, “from lean Democratic to toss-up.” Yet, recent election history would show that Republicans have not won the Coal State since Bush Senior in 1988. With a seven point deficit coupled with his negative twenty one favorability rating, the odds are not in Trump’s favor for changing that status quo. Even with a large number of working class conservatives who are captivated by Trump’s ideas of economic populism, he still has not surpassed any former republican’s percentage of the vote seen in the past four elections, (and they all lost Pennsylvania).

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Here’s what NPR’s current voter demographic map looks like. With states shaded with yellow as swing states. States with lighter tones of red and blue are considered either lean Republican, lean Democratic or toss-up.

Although Trump has gained ground in certain regions of the U.S., his closing of the gaps in the polls should not be overrated at this point during the election. With his one hundred twenty Electoral College votes to Clinton’s two hundred twenty four, Trump has a lot more work to do if he wants to secure his seat in the oval office.

-WDL