With Donald Trump trailing Hillary Clinton by a wide margin there
already seems to be a discussion going on who will be to blame if
Trump loses the election. Obviously, I know this discussion is premature
and speculative. But it wouldn't be online political commentary if
it wasn't premature and speculative!
I have decided to put my two cents into the ongoing discussion.
Here are determining factors that contributed to a troubled Trump
1) Trump himself. He has been campaigning for over a year now
and he doesn't want to learn and grow. He has no ability to stay
focused and on message. Staying on message is crucial when
running for office. He's frustratingly stubborn in his ways. This
is where the majority of the blame lies.
2) The media. The media gave Trump free reign of their airways
during the primary. He was on cable news 24/7.
Trump provided ratings and the media gave him a platform.
It was hard for the other 16 candidates to get any coverage. This
free media was way too much for the other candidates to overcome.
It has been truly disgraceful how the media behaved during this
3) Immigration hardliners. It appears when Trump's support
really started coalescing was when he insulted Mexico by saying
they're sending us their criminals and rapists. I don't believe the
GOP field was bereft of talent this year. But there was a portion
of the Republican electorate that were insistent on having a nominee
with bombastic rhetoric against immigration. Therefore, there were good
candidates that were unacceptable to this vocal group. For example,
Ted Cruz was anti-immigration reform but for the hardliners it
wasn't sufficient enough. If Trump loses GOP voters will have
to evaluate how much credence they give to this high pitched group.
4) Selfish candidates unwilling to accept reality. During the primary,
too many candidates stuck it out even when it was evident their candidacy
would not amount to anything. This helped Trump divide and conquer.
For example, Jeb Bush didn't leave until after South Carolina but it
was evident his candidacy wasn't taking off months and months before.
Even my preferred candidate Marco Rubio stuck it out a little longer
than he should have. Perhaps the primary would have looked
differently if some of these lower tier candidates would have gotten
the message and left sooner. Trump supporters will argue some
of that support would have gone to him. I don't buy it. I think there
was a considerate amount anti-Trump sentiment but they weren't
able to consolidate behind one candidate.
Another aspect of this point is that way too many candidates ran during
the primary. It was way too crowded. The GOP allowed too many
candidates on the debate stage. No candidate was able to effectively attack
Trump because of too many voices on the debate stage. Marco Rubio was
able to launch a good attack against Trump during one of the debates
when the field had narrowed but by then it was too late; Trump's
lead was significant.
5) Anti-establishmentarians. There was so much talk about anger towards
the "establishment" during the primary. Frankly, I think it is wise to avoid
listening to angry people. It got out of hand when Ted Cruz of all people
got labeled "establishment". The word means nothing to me anymore.
Establishment seemed to be code work for professional. Call me crazy
but I want a professional in elected office. Someone who knows what
they're talking about. It has taken an unfocused and undisciplined candidate
like Donald Trump for me to appreciate a polished and disciplined
6) Celebrity culture. The irony of the political party that is despised by
Hollywood getting pulled into celebrity culture. Trump had name
recognition and apparently that was enough for some primary voters.
We will see how things turn out in November. But if we're looking for
self-evaluation after the election this may be the place to start.