In no particular order.
Trump the Incumbent
When Trump hosted Saturday Night Live, his opening skit involved a future fantasy with Trump as president doing great things. As regular readers of this blog noted that night, he made you think past the sale. I assume Trump was involved in approving or suggesting that theme. Brilliant persuasion technique. Probably his best move so far.
In the minds of many, Trump is already running as an incumbent president. He simply seems as if he already has the job. Trump has made you think of him as both the sitting president … and an outsider… at the same time. Hypnotists use this method so the subject will embrace the interpretation with the greatest personal appeal. Do you like Trump for being an outsider, or do you like him as the incumbent president of your imagination? Pick one.
Not So Unelectable Trump
Among the pundit class, Trump’s odds have risen from “impossible” to “maybe.” I still say almost certainly. His odds look better than ever at the moment.
Carson the Competitor
What is the best situation for Donald Trump at this stage of the election cycle? I would think his best situation is running neck-and-neck against Ben Carson. That keeps the insiders (Rubio, Cruz, etc.) at bay while giving Trump the most beatable rival when it comes to the final weeks of the nomination run.
According to The Daily Beast, Carson claims he cured his prostate cancer with a diet supplement, yet he went ahead and had prostate surgery anyway to serve as a role model. And… the supplement company was paying him to talk about their product.
You can assume Trump is saving that little beauty for when he needs it. Keep in mind that the biggest criticism of Trump is that he is a snake oil salesman. But he might be running against a doctor who literally sold overhyped supplements for a living. You can’t get a better Trump matchup than that. But Trump will wait to deliver the Carson kill shot until Carson’s strength drives out the stronger competitors.
I’m not convinced that the reports about Carson’s claims of prostate “cure” are accurate, given the false reports against him recently. But I haven’t heard this one debunked yet.
Winner of the Debate
I picked Cruz as the winner of the debate. He had the best line of the night when he said things would be different if immigration were suppressing the wages of the media instead of blue collar workers. But Cruz’s lawyerly debate excellence is largely lost on the public. I’m not sure anyone cares who has the most coherent arguments.
Who I Want to Win
If Trump wins, I will get some bragging rights for calling it early. But I don’t see it changing my net worth. And people will quickly forget that a blind squirrel found one nut. In the short run, it has been good for web traffic and book sales, but not in a life-changing way.
If Carson wins, and he gets his 10% tithing tax plan, I would get a major windfall at the expense of the middle class. That might not sound fair to you, but if Carson says God is okay with it, who am I to argue?
If Cruz wins, I will be directing people to my sequel to God’s Debris, titled The Religion War. The latter book, written in 2004, is set in the future, not far from today, when a Caliphate rises in the Middle East and a hardline conservative leader in the West named Cruz takes control of the fight against them. (Different first name.) In the book, the Caliphate starts sponsoring hobby-sized drone attacks against the United States using sleeper cells. If that happens during a Cruz presidency, it would be good for my book sales. But very bad for the world. That doesn’t seem like a good deal for me.
I think 2024 will be his time. He is smart to set himself up for it now. That’s all I see happening.
Who Would Keep Us Safest?
Carson seems the biggest pacifist of the poll leaders (by personality not policy), and that feels dangerous to me. Would other leaders fear him? The man can’t even win a knife fight against a belt buckle.
Trump has a history of wanting the United States to stay out of unproductive fights. And he also wants the strongest military. That seems like the safest situation. Trump also owns large buildings that can’t be defended. I don’t see him starting any unnecessary wars. And his famous exaggerations about our military could reduce the risk of other countries getting adventurous.
The Kinder, Nicer Trump
A few weeks ago Trump signaled that he planned to improve his likability. He softened his tone and moved to a more presidential demeanor. His SNL appearance helped. And you all saw him wade into a crowd and address the problems of a wounded warrior. The media is noticing. Expect Trump’s “niceness campaign” to work. His poll numbers on that dimension should improve by the end of the month. And folks will stop worrying about him having the nuclear codes. In a month Trump will seem like the only rational player in a field of crazies. (Opposite of what you thought in July.)
After the second debate, pundits declared Fiorina the winner, and her poll numbers surged. I declared her a loser (using the Master Persuader filter) because she paired her image with that of a dead baby. To me, that was the worst political move of all time. Ever. After the surge, Fiorina’s poll numbers have drifted down, as I predicted.
Bernie Sanders Surges
Bernie Sanders looks terrific in national polls against both Trump and Carson. But I suspect some of that strength has to do with Sanders not being Hillary Clinton. Democrats might be sensing desperation by now. They know that Trump would beat Clinton like a rented drum. The matchup is terrible for Clinton; she would do better against a traditional candidate who will argue the issues and not brand her as the Evil Lying Witch of the West.
I think Sanders would beat Carson in a general election. But so would any other Democrat because of Carson’s prostate “cure” claim. However, if the Democrats run a socialist against the most famous capitalist of all time – and one who wants to tax the hedge funds and corporations more – that looks like a Trump landslide to me.
Trump has criticized the Iran deal because we didn’t get our prisoners back. I think candidate Trump will try to get it done before election.
Impossible you say?
All Trump needs to do is take some version of this message to the Iranian leadership via private channels: If you release the hostages now, I’ll go easy on you when I’m president. If not, I will unleash economic Hell on day one and never let up. Now tell me how important those four people are to the Iranian future.
He wouldn’t be bluffing.
I don’t predict Trump will try to get back the hostages. But I give him 60% odds of success if he tries. And that is how landslides get made.
I wrote this book too.