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Presidential Horse Race 2016: How Donald Trump can seal the deal with Republican voters

Heading into the final weekend before the all-too-consequential 2016 election next Tuesday, neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton appears to have locked-up the presidential race. Both will no doubt pack the remaining days’ schedules with rallies and events aimed at motivating supporters to squeeze out every last vote.

TV ads will run. Doors will be knocked on. Phone banks will hum. Both sides will be fraught with activity.

Women for TrumpCrooked Hillary seems intent on making her final pitch all about Trump. In contrast, Trump needs to stick to the message that brought him to where he is today. At this point everyone in America knows about the candidates and their personal problems. Trump will win on issues or not at all.

Byron York of the Washington Examiner describes Trump’s biggest challenge. “[T] there was a disturbing — for Republicans — pattern in some of the 2012 states that Obama won: He significantly outperformed the RCP average on election eve. Colorado, New Hampshire, Nevada, Pennsylvania — Obama did much better on Election Day in all of them. And this is important, too: With the exception of Florida, where he beat Romney when Romney led in the polls, Obama outperformed his own leads.

“Unless the state polls change dramatically in the next few days, Trump will have to do more than that.”

Like practically everyone else has been doing, York equates the polling in this year’s race to that of 2012, which I suppose is natural considering it’s the most recent data and the numbers turned out to be somewhat askew from the actual results on Election Day.

But there’s an inherent problem with comparing 2016 to 2012 because other than the closeness of the polls, just about everything else is different this year. There are different candidates, different issues, different state of the country, a different level of enthusiasm … and let’s not forget, a different degree of criminality on behalf of one of the top contenders.

Circumstances are also different. As I’ve pointed out a lot recently, there is no analogous event to Superstorm Sandy to grab the nation’s attention just days before the election this time. In contrast, the weather (at least in the East) has been exceptional lately and even the World Series concluded with hardly any interference from Mother Nature.

In contrast to the headline dominating Sandy in 2012, the only things people are talking about these days is the FBI, Anthony Weiner and Crooked Hillary’s devious connections to her private email server and the hideously corrupt Clinton Foundation. Trump hasn’t exactly disappeared from the news media but the more “disciplined” Trump isn’t nearly as interesting as the one who tweeted at 3 o’clock in the morning about Alicia Machado’s 1990’s weight problem.

Trump also joked about the need to stick to his message the other day during one of his speeches.

We all know revelations from Wikileaks won’t change the election result as much as it’s given people an excuse to talk about something other than Trump. And that’s bad news for Hillary.

It should also be noted that pollsters this year are likely using a 2012 turnout model to plug their 2016 data into. In my opinion that’s why Crooked Hillary has maintained such an enduring lead despite the fact she’s not a good candidate and Americans don’t like her. The most recent ABC News poll also had her unfavorable ratings higher than Trump’s. Lastly, her supporters are much less enthusiastic about her than they were for Obama four years ago.

Simply put, it appears that the turnout models on these polls are probably wrong, overestimating the size of the Democrat electorate.

At any rate, what Trump needs to do first and foremost in the final few days is shore up his support within the Republican Party to Romney-like numbers. There’s already evidence he’s doing it, too.

Niall Stanage and Jonathan Swan of The Hill report, “Republican voters are finally coming home to Donald Trump after months of flagging support threatened to put the White House out of reach…

“Now, as Republicans face up to the specter of a Hillary Clinton presidency, Trump’s numbers are on the rise. But polling experts caution that he is still a few points shy of where he needs to be.”

According to Stanage and Swan’s article, analysts attribute Trump’s late gain with Republicans to the reassuring presence of Mike Pence on the campaign trail. Apparently Pence’s job has been to convince Republicans wary of Trump to support the ticket as a means to get rid of disastrous policies like Obamacare.

It’s worked to a large extent. Even Ted Cruz campaigned on behalf of Trump alongside Mike Pence yesterday. Now that’s one thing I never thought I’d see this year – Cruz talking up a win for the Republican ticket. There are other Republicans “coming home” as well, such as radio host Hugh Hewitt.

I suspect that by Tuesday Trump’s Republican support will be close to where Romney’s was in 2012, not so much due to his winning over of the last few percentage points of party members but because people will finally realize that there’s nowhere else to go – and this election is too important to sit out or to waste a vote for an unknown like Evan McMullin.

It also could be a realization from these folks that the GOP has permanently changed. W. James Antle III writes in the Washington Examiner, “The Republican Party could seek leadership from figures who straddle between the pro-Trump faction and other conservatives, such as Cruz or Mike Pence. Or Republicans could turn to other leaders who were consistently anti-Trump, such as Flake or Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse.

“But the divisions over Trump are much bigger than one man. How do Republicans cope with demographic change? Will the GOP remain even rhetorically a party of free markets and limited government? Or are those ideals too abstract and divorced from the material interests of actual Republican voters?”

I think the fact Donald Trump was able to run in the Republican primaries and capture the nomination indicates that the party’s leadership was already so far removed from the values of the grassroots that something jarring needed to happen.

For those who weren’t necessarily big fans of the old do-nothing, stand-for-nothing establishment Republican Party in the first place, the notion of having Donald Trump as its figurehead really isn’t all that intimidating.

Change is a difficult thing for anyone to face but one thing’s for sure – the party of John McCain, Mitt Romney, John Boehner, Mitch McConnell and now Paul Ryan wasn’t headed anywhere. If it took nominating Donald Trump to demonstrate this, then so be it.

Republicans will “come home” to vote for Trump on Tuesday with the full knowledge that it’s a different world for the GOP whether Trump wins or not.

Republican transition team readies for a post-election mission to stamp out Obama’s legacy

Of course we won’t know whether Trump wins until late Tuesday night or even Wednesday morning sometime, but that isn’t stopping his transition team from going all out to prepare for a wholesale move into the executive branch in two months.

After eight years of corruption and executive tyranny under Obama and Crooked Hillary, there’s a lot of work to do in order to clean up the mess they made.

Andrew Restuccia and Nancy Cook of Politico report, “Donald Trump’s presidential transition team has kicked into higher gear as the race for the White House tightens, with a team of conservative Washington policy wonks fleshing out plans to dismantle President Barack Obama’s legacy.

“What once seemed like a futile exercise in preparing for a government that might never be is suddenly becoming very real for the 100-plus Republicans on Trump’s transition team. The group — made up of an unlikely hodgepodge of conservative think-tank fellows, former Mitt Romney advisers and die-hard Trump supporters — has been working at a frenzied pace to put the finishing touches on a road map for the nominee’s first 100 days.”

After reading this story I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe there’s more to the news reports of Trump’s momentum than were initially apparent on the surface. Heavily left-leaning Politico has been lambasting Trump for months after he secured the Republican nomination and it seems a little fishy that they’d be publishing something basically positive in tone about Trump now unless they believe he’s got a real shot to win.

The Politico reporters also indicated that Crooked Hillary’s transition team is similarly busy though it’s smaller in size and not as forthcoming about their plans should Hillary’s people get the opportunity to supplant Barack’s.

They all hate each other, of course, though the policies between the two administrations probably wouldn’t end up being much different.

The Trump transition team is focusing on matters that can be dealt with quickly such as trashing Obama’s executive orders and excessive and unconstitutional regulations. They’re also working on dealing with Obamacare.

I’m also surmising that Obama’s executive amnesty order will be one of the first to go, though it’s already been held up by the federal courts. I also speculate that one of the initial orders of Trump business will be finalizing a short list of potential nominees to replace Justice Antonin Scalia.

Trump’s first Supreme Court appointment is going to be vitally important in setting the tone for his administration. If Trump does as well in choosing a new Justice as he did in bringing on Mike Pence to the Republican ticket, conservatives across the board will be pleased.

But we also don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. There’s still an election to win and the aftermath is bound to be tumultuous. The left in this country is not going to let go of power easily. Be prepared for lawsuits, bogus claims of voter suppression and all the other nonsense that accompanies a Democrat loss. If the Republicans manage to retain the Senate, it’ll only get worse.

I even wonder if the exiting Obama people will remove all the “O” keys from the computers before they leave just as the sore loser Clinton people took away the “W” after George W. Bush won in 2000. I wouldn’t put it past them. Would you?

Clues to solving the mystery early on Election Night

It’s still a few days away but no doubt millions of people across America are already planning what they’ll do on Election Night. Most, I’m sure, are expecting an entire evening’s worth of exit polls, vote tallies, red and blue maps and of course, projections to provide the entertainment.

Election Night has become almost like the Super Bowl except for the commercials. There’s a lot of suspense involved.

I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but there are ways to determine who the winner will be well ahead of the actual projections.

None other than “Bush’s brain” Karl Rove tells us (at the Wall Street Journal) what to look for on Election Night, “As Republican voters came home, the presidential race was already tightening. But Friday’s bombshell—that the FBI reopened its investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email—has guaranteed a barn-burning end to this extraordinary campaign. Donald Trump’s supporters are enthused, Hillary Clinton’s dispirited. So what to look for on election night?

“While votes are still being cast, the TV networks will comment on exit polls, though they won’t reveal what the surveys show about the head-to-head matchup. The exits can be spectacularly wrong—they predicted a John Kerry victory in 2004—but they do influence the coverage. What you see may not be final. Throughout the evening and afterward the poll’s internal numbers are adjusted to match the actual vote.”

I stop there because in the balance of his article Rove goes on to provide a pretty standard overview of states Trump needs to win on Tuesday. Karl also offers some bellwether counties to keep an eye on -- you know, the ones that have predicted the winner in every presidential election since…the beginning of time.

I included the part about exit polls because they helped me figure out within a matter of moments in 2012 that Obama was the winner. I don’t want to give too much credit – again – to Superstorm Sandy, but as soon as the exit polls revealed that Obama’s handling of the aftermath of the storm figured heavily on the minds of late-deciders, I knew it was over.

If the election was indeed supposed to be winnable, Romney had to have a healthy majority of the late-decider vote. It didn’t happen. The night was pretty much over right then. So much for all the party favors and munchies we’d bought. Everyone at that point just went for the booze.

It also seemed fitting that Sandy, as a blustery, wet, loud and destructive batch of tropical air should have made such a big difference in Obama’s victory. But it did, and the rest is history now.

Similarly, we should be able to gather some clues this year from those early exit polls, namely, as Rove pointed out, the demographic make-up of the electorate and the factors used by late-deciders to choose a candidate. If it’s “FBI Investigation,” check Trump. If it’s “experience” and “can assume the job on Day One,” check Crooked Hillary.

Interestingly enough, I think the “understands people like me” factor will go towards the Republican side this time, simply because all of the news reporting of late indicates that Hillary only worries about herself no matter how much she claims to have worked for “children and families.”

In the end it will come down to electoral votes, which is why Trump plans to end his campaign in a place that could factor in very prominently.

Caitlin Huey-Burns and Rebecca Berg of Real Clear Politics report, “Donald Trump will wrap up his presidential bid where it all began: New Hampshire. The GOP nominee will host his final rally before Election Day in Manchester, where he held his first official campaign event and where he claimed his first primary state victory.

“But Trump’s decision to end in the Granite State may be more than nostalgia and symbolism. Polls are tightening in New Hampshire and show Trump within striking distance of Hillary Clinton, whose lead there has been cut in half over the last week in the RealClearPolitics polling average.”

Polls are indeed tightening there and also in other places like Virginia.

I have a feeling it’s going to be a long night on Tuesday. Everyone should stock up for one heck of a ride!

Melania Trump can help Trump win over women voters

I would like to conclude the last full week of campaigning in the 2016 presidential horse race with a question: Who do you think would make for a better “first spouse” representative in the White House, Bill Clinton or Melania Trump?

The answer seems relevant now because one or the other will be at the forefront of American life in a little over two months. Bill would certainly dominate the headlines while he tries to explain away the latest Clinton scandal and in contrast, Melania would be trying to protect kids and advance the legitimate interests of women.

Jonathan Easley of The Hill reports, “As first lady, Melania Trump would focus on women’s issues and eliminating cyber bullying, she announced in Pennsylvania on Thursday in a speech aimed at female voters in the critical battleground state.

“In a rare campaign appearance just days before the election, Trump, reading from a teleprompter at a rally in Berwyn, talked about growing up in rural Slovenia and how she was inspired at a young age by Ronald Reagan’s presidency.

“She recalled life as a model in Paris and Milan, her journey to citizenship and marriage to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, citing her life story as an unlikely example of the American Dream playing out for a girl from a tiny country under communist control.”

In his article Easley notes that Crooked Hillary’s lead in Pennsylvania has shrunk to four points and Melania’s speech would be directed towards helping her husband with women in the Keystone State. If Trump improves a little more with the suburban Philadelphia Republican white vote he could be within the margin of error for the state. If he wins there all the pressure would be taken off to “run the table” on all the other battleground states.

There was also a report out Thursday that Trump is tied with Clinton in Colorado. A win in either Pennsylvania or Colorado could reshuffle the map considerably. I believe if there’s a big enough wave to give Trump a victory in these probable blue states that he’d be competitive in others as well.

I also think the notion of having Melania Trump as First Lady would be very attractive to a lot of women voters. She’s humble, well-spoken and would represent the country well alongside her attention-attracting husband.

And needless to say, Melania would be much better in the role than Bill Clinton. Bubba Bill still has his diehard fans, but who really wants to see him every day for four more years?

It’s something to think about as we march towards Election Day.

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