After the trouncing of the Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in the Wisconsin primary election on 5 April, many in the media and political elites (the “Pundocracy”) hailed the result as a key turning point, indeed, “Peak Trump”.
The defeat in Wisconsin came after a series of self-induced blunders by the Trump campaign and the scale of the defeat has led to significant changes to his message discipline, the tone of his campaign, well as the appointment of key professional advisers to Team Trump. The salient fact is that Trump recognizes the need for change, has adapted his campaign and has appointed the right people on board to secure a majority prior to the Republican Party’s Cleveland convention in July 2016.
In my most recent blog article on 20 March, I predicted Donald Trump would win the majority of the delegates and avoid a contested nomination in Cleveland. The defeat in Wisconsin, contrary to the conventional wisdom, will lead to the securing of the Donald’s nomination as the Republican presidential candidate.
The victory of Trump in his home state of New York, with over 60% of the vote, was a strong comeback for a candidate who had supposedly peaked weeks ago. One of the most interesting aspects of his victory was his appeal to Republican Latino voters, whom he won over 50% of the vote. We have already seen his success with Latino voters in the Nevada primary election, where he won half the Latino vote, even when competing against two Latino Republican candidates.
I have always argued that Trump, once he starts pivoting to the populist centre, will gain traction among minority voters who will find his core economic message appealing compared to the stuffy and wooden establishment figure Hilary Clinton. Of course, Trump is not going to get a majority of minority voters support, or anyway near that, but he only has to do as well, or better, than previous Republican candidates to get into the White House.
The main argument of the Pundocracy on why Trump can’t win the general election is that his negative ratings are worse than Clinton’s. What this perspective totally fails to understand is that the Trumpian Great Pivot into a serious, substantive and presidential candidate will drive those negative ratings down over the rest of the year. The main concern of many voters is the perception is that Trump isn’t ready or doesn’t have the temperament to be president. Acting and behaving “presidentially” will be the main antidote to that worry. The bottom line is that Clinton’s high negative ratings have been formed over a political career lasting 25 years whilst Trump’s ratings have been formed over less than 8 months. Trump can and will overcome these weaknesses in a way that Clinton simply cannot.
There are signs that the Pundocracy are starting to recognise this reality. On the BBC This Week programme, the former Labour London mayor predicted that Trump will defeat Clinton in November and other news media articles suggest that world leaders are starting to seriously prepare for a Trump presidency. It is still possible that Trump’s presidential campaign will self-implode, but the most likely outcome is that Donald Trump will be America’s next president.