Despite the fact that both parties have had their contrived celebrations, you know that campaigns haven’t revved up because Chris Christie is still in New Jersey. He will be the bellwether for Donald Trump, even more so than his VP pick Mike Pence. Trump trusts Christie more and he wants an attack dog like Christie – who seems to have no moral gyroscope – out on the trail in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida. Those are the three states that Trump must win, assuming of course that he also wins all of the states that Mitt Romney won in 2012. That’s not a given since recent polls in Georgia and Missouri have Hillary Clinton within a point or two in both states. Starting August 1, the polls will actually mean something, but it looks like Hillary got more of a bounce out of Philadelphia than Trump did out of Cleveland.
The conventional wisdom is that this will be one of the nastiest presidential campaigns in recent memory. But since my recent memory goes back to the 1980s, I don’t think this one will wow us with its tone. Yes, Donald Trump will drive the mood of the campaign since he and his most fervent followers are purportedly more angry than either Hillary’s or Bernie’s flock. But let’s see if either camp can come up with a singular, or doubular, campaign ad that defines nastiness in the way that the Daisy or Willie Horton spots did in their day. Trump is more likely to get nasty using twitter, which thankfully constrains him to 140 characters, while Hillary has amassed a significantly fuller chest of cash for TV spots, even as the data says that fewer people are watching commercial TV.
The Olympics will blunt some of the anger until September, unless the US gets jobbed out of a medal – a la men’s basketball in 1972. Or if the Zika virus jumps an evolutionary step and gets transmitted through Russian hackers, in which case we’ll have a full-blown epidemic on our hands.
Donald Trump has his work cut out for him and it looks like he’s trying to make it harder for himself by attacking Khizr Khan’s account of the death of his son, and questioning why Ms. Khan didn’t speak. That one was easy, and Trump seriously blew it by not appearing presidential, which is much more important at this stage of the race than trying to attract more racist, xenophobic, Islamophobic voters. I’m hoping there’s an upper limit on that demographic. Trump’s other problem is that he continues to lose Republican support, even as he makes gains among disaffected Democrats who don’t like Clinton. Trump insiders continue to say that Trump is a nice guy in private, but it’s difficult to believe that given that he hasn’t shown any of those traits on the campaign trail.
Hillary addressed the trust issue in her speech in Philadelphia, but attitudes towards her are pretty well set among the electorate. Her hope is that enough Bernie voters back her and enough moderate Republicans either vote for her, stay home or vote for Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate.
As we enter August, it’s Hillary’s to lose. I don’t think she will.0