Tag Archives: 2016 Republican presidential nomination

The State of the Republican Race: A View From the Ground In New Hampshire

Because I’ll be making a last round of New Hampshire campaign events tomorrow (I’m hoping to hit Cruz and Jeb! and will be live tweeting both events), I thought I’d post my assessment of the state of the Republican race in New Hampshire tonight. (The Democratic race, to me, has not been nearly as unpredictable.) As regular readers know, I’ve been fortunate to attend (and blog about) events held by every one of the Republican candidates so far (Lindsey – we hardly knew ye!) except for Cruz and Carson. (That includes Graham and Pataki – and I was witness to a “Where’s Jim Gilmore?” no show!)  Drawing on those experiences, here are my thoughts on the likely state of the race today.

As I predicted last night, there has been what I believe to be a media overreaction to Rubio’s admittedly subpar debate performance last night. While I understand the chattering class’ need to create a newsworthy moment from every debate, my sense is that Rubio’s shell-shocked initial response to Christie’s heavy-handed attack (I thought Rubio recovered and finished the debate on the upswing) won’t have nearly the impact on his support in New Hampshire as some seem to believe. This is because I thought he had already plateaued before last night’s debate took place. Although his events are well attended, Marco’s brand of social conservatism doesn’t play very well among many New Hampshire voters. The most recent Monmouth poll  finds that 55% of likely Republican voters surveyed say a candidate who shares their values is more important than electability when deciding how to vote. Unfortunately for Rubio, he has greater support among likely voters focused on electability (22%) rather than shared values (9%). Remember, Mike Huckabee received only 11% support in New Hampshire in 2008, and Rick Santorum did even worse, at 9% in 2012. Both were social conservatives coming off victories in Iowa. So while I expected that Rubio might get a momentary bump due to the media overreaction to his middling performance in Iowa, I didn’t think there would be any sustained Rubio surge in NH. This won’t stop pundits from claiming that Rubio’s debate performance caused his poll numbers to stall. Don’t get me wrong – Rubio attracts enthusiastic crowds, and he presents his socially conservative views in an easy-to-digest personal narrative sprinkled with plenty of feel-good human interest anecdotes, rather than through a fire-and-brimstone pulpit-pounding sermon. As I’ve noted before, he is the only candidate who can paint a picture of a nation going down the tubes, and yet audience members walk away feeling uplifted. But while he exudes a rock star quality that makes people wait in line to take selfies with him, I’m not completely convinced those pictures will translate into votes.

For similar reasons, I thought Ted Cruz never had much upside in this state either, Iowa victory notwithstanding, although I hesitate to say too much about his candidacy without first attending one of his rallies. Cruz has made only 26 visits to New Hampshire, has held less than half (84) the campaign events hosted by John Kasich (185) and Chris Christie (184) and, based on his debate performance last night, seems already to be looking beyond New Hampshire to contests down the road. Ben Carson, meanwhile, has been virtually absent here, with only 12 campaign visits and clearly seems to have staked his candidacy on doing well in South Carolina. On the other hand, Carly Fiorina, with close to 150 campaign events here so far, was clearly counting on a strong showing in New Hampshire. Despite drawing good crowds at her events, however, she has sagged of late in the polls and ABC (Anybody But Carly) essentially winnowed her from the race by excluding her from the debate stage last night. I expect her to drop out after Tuesday.

So who do I expect to do well in New Hampshire? Trump has led the polls for some time and he attracts the largest, most boisterous crowds I’ve seen here, rivaled only by Bernie’s. But it is hard to tell how well his big rally, fly-in/fly out southern New Hampshire campaign strategy will translate into votes. In what might be seen as a sign that his get-out-the-vote organization is not the best, he was the only candidate whose staff didn’t bother taking my name when I entered his rally. And he hasn’t engaged in the type of retail politics I’ve seen from Fiorina, Rubio and the governors Jeb!, Kasich and Christie. New Hampshire voters like to meet their candidates, preferably more than once. However, I’ve been wrong so often about Trump that I hesitate to say much more than that you should read my post about my visit to his rally.

I feel more confident touting the candidacies of Kasich and Jeb!, and I expect both to show late movement in the polls and to surprise a bit on Tuesday. As I noted in my post on my visit to one of his campaign events, Jeb! has really upped his game on the campaign trail, and he’s brought in the heavy artillery (his Mom) as well as some lesser guns (Lindsay Graham and former New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg) for the final push. He is likely to attract stronger support among older, moderate-leaning establishment Republicans who tend to turn out and vote. Of all the candidates, he is probably best able to survive finishing as low as 5th in New Hampshire, as long as it is a close 5th. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see him do better than 5th – polls indicate his support has solidified over the last few days, with 61% of his supporters now saying that they are definitely voting for him, up from 49% two days ago.

Kasich has basically camped out in New Hampshire for several months – his was one of the first campaign events I attended during this election cycle, and that was back in early September! In that time only Christie has made more visits to New Hampshire, and Kasich matches the New Jersey governor in total number of campaign events. Next to Trump, Kasich leads all Republican candidates among unaffiliated voters, and he does almost twice as well among the unaffiliated as he does among registered Republicans. (For Bush, the numbers are reversed – he does better among registered Republicans). Kasich is a true-blue conservative, but he has sought to soften that image with an optimistic, folksy demeanor in a transparent bid to win some crossover votes on Tuesday among the large chunk of unaffiliated New Hampshire voters. The more of them who decide to vote in the Republican race, the better he will likely do, but he is competing with Trump (and with Sanders!) for this vote.  Kasich is not quite a Jon Huntsman moderate, or a Ron Paul libertarian, so I’m not entirely persuaded he is going to attract the numbers he’ll need to to in order to get the media to begin giving him Rubio-like/he exceeded expectations coverage after Tuesday, but I do think he’ll finish in the top four.

And then there’s Christie. As his polls numbers began to sink, his rhetoric has become more apocalyptic, particularly on national security issues and – as his debate performance indicated – he has not been afraid to go on the offensive against his rivals. When I saw him back in November he spent a good deal of his talk discussing the opiate crisis in New Hampshire and came across as socially moderate. Since then, he has seemed to focus more on national security issues – or at least that’s been the emphasis in his campaign ads here. Like Kasich, he can’t afford to finish back in the pack on Tuesday because the road after New Hampshire only gets harder for his brand of politics. If forced to choose, my guess is that he is the most likely of the three governors to get winnowed after New Hampshire. If so, I expect most of his support to gravitate to Bush or Kasich. (This assumes Carly’s days are numbered as well.)

It’s been an interesting few months on the New Hampshire campaign trail – and it’s not over yet. A lot can happen in the next two days – according to one poll, less than 60% of those surveyed indicate their vote is completely locked in. I expect some reshuffling in the next 48 hours among the group of five candidates just below Trump, with Kasich and possibly Bush most likely to move up, and Cruz and Rubio to drop from their current polling averages. And if New Hampshire voters don’t have enough on their minds, they also have to grapple with a new voter ID law that may lead to longer lines at the polls. (Those showing up without a photo ID will have to fill out a voter affidavit and then get their picture taken.)

I’m back on the road tomorrow and then back to television thereafter. If I get a chance, I’ll chime in with my take on the Democratic side of the race before Tuesday. Stay tuned!

Tales From the Campaign Trail: Kasich In New Hampshire

Today is the first of what I hope to be a regularly recurring feature on this site during the current election cycle: a post recounting a visit to a campaign event put on by one of the major presidential candidates. On Wednesday* I attended Ohio Governor John Kasich’s visit to West Lebanon, a small (population about 3,500) community in western NH situated along the Connecticut River. Despite a relatively late start in the race, Kasich has emerged as one of the stronger candidates, aided by what was generally perceived as a strong performance in the first Republican debate. Although he’s only at 3.4% in Pollster.com aggregate polls, which puts him in the lower middle of the Republican pack, he’s gaining ground in the crucial state of New Hampshire where he has emerged as Jeb Bush’s primary competition as the Donald Trump alternative.

Kasich’s rise in the New Hampshire polls made Tuesday’s event of particular interest to me. We arrived at the Kilton Public Library to find a standing-room-only crowd which I estimated at about 200 people. The audience seemed mostly middle-aged and up, with a few wearing shirts emblazoned with Kasich campaign slogan and logo, and there was a bit of a buzz of anticipation. After a short pep-rally style introduction by a local official, Kasich entered to polite applause. He was dressed casually, which fit well with his overall demeanor (see blurry photo below – blame new smart phone).

Kasich2

As one might expect with a candidate who is still not particularly well known, Kasich spent the first part of his relatively brief campaign spiel (he talked for maybe 15 minutes before taking questions) recounting his biography, starting with his working-class roots in Pennsylvania, and working his way through his political career beginning as a state Senator in Ohio, then his years in Congress, and finally his election as Ohio Governor in 2010. The narrative was spiced with some humorous asides, including a tale of Kasich’s meeting with President Richard Nixon. While it is common for presidential candidates to tout their humble roots, the implicit comparison between Kasich’s origins and those of his main New Hampshire rival Jeb! Bush was likely not lost on most audience members.

Kasich is viewed as a relative moderate among Republicans, a perception that is supported when looking at his primary fundraising sources – a metric that places him close to Bush, Christie and Pataki on the ideological spectrum. That moderation came across in Tuesday’s event when he began discussing, in broad strokes, the themes that animate his campaign. If I had to summarize Kasich’s approach in one word, it would be “balance.” Although clearly pushing conservative ideas, he repeatedly stressed the need to work across the political aisle and to compromise on issues, taking time to tout his own record of budget surpluses and compromise in Congress. In this vein he told an anecdote about his golfing foursome with President Obama, Vice President Biden and Speaker of the House John Boehner, after which – according to Kasich – he took each of them aside and asked if they understood what a privilege it was to be in the positions they occupied. Kasich suggested that, at least for a brief period, that type of “we are in this together” thinking came close to leading to a budget breakthrough. (Left unsaid, of course, was the fact that it did NOT produce a breakthrough!)

Kasich repeated this theme in the question-and-answer session that took up most of the event’s time. Perhaps the only discordant note came early in the Q&A when an audience member pressed him somewhat aggressively on Kasich’s previous statements questioning the science underlying theories of climate change. Kasich conceded that some climate change reflected human activity, but he suggested that efforts to combat that change should not come at the expense of economic growth and he stressed the need to keep an open mind. He then used his answer to segue into a discussion about the need to diversify the nation’s power sources, emphasizing both renewable fuels but also nuclear and coal. For the most part, however, the tone of the questions was polite and they ran the gamut from Kasich’s view on fighting ISIS to the Iran nuclear deal to trade policy to restoring economic growth to repealing Obamacare. Kasich did not shy away from giving direct responses to each question although his answers were generally couched in broad strokes rather than specific detail.

Looking at my notes, here is what I recall about his responses, subject to correction by anyone who was there. Although he opposed the Iran nuclear deal, he indicated that as president he would not move to reimpose sanctions unless Iran violated the agreement. He would move toward a greater deregulation of the economy in order to entice more business to locate domestically, rather than overseas, describing himself as “a free trader, but a fair trader.” To spur economic growth, he recommended reducing the deficit budget, ending Dodd-Frank and ending Obamacare. In response to a lengthy question criticizing the role of seniority in Washington, Kasich noted that politicians rarely lose election because of a wrong vote. Instead, they are voted out when they lose the willingness to lead by making difficult choices on behalf of citizens.

In total, the event lasted about an hour. Kasich came across as affable, even folksy, someone very much at ease on the campaign trail talking to voters. He sprinkled his responses with humorous asides, at one point directing a very young (a five year old?) girl to come up alongside him to ask her question, much to her father’s delight and the crowd’s amusement (see blurry picture – curse you bald man!)

As far as I could tell from my observations and limited questioning (I was only able to talk to two people after Kasich departed), audience members left the event favorably disposed toward Kasich, although that’s not to say he won all their votes. It’s easy to see why he’s rising in the polls there, however. He exudes a type of Midwest reasonableness that stands in stark contrast to some of the more ideological firebrands in the Republican field, and his understated demeanor couldn’t be more different than The Donald’s bombastic persona. But his evenhanded responses should not obscure the fact that Kasich is clearly a conservative – when asked how to deal with ISIS, he responded “Destroy them” (after a lengthy discourse on how ISIS is able find recruits). Nonetheless, it seems clear that he views his chief rival in New Hampshire to be Bush, whose views overlap with his, and who has been spending the last two days on his own campaign trip to the Granite state. It is early in the campaign, and Kasich is still a relative unknown. But I suspect New Hampshire is a state in which he could do well, particularly if Bush and/or Trump falter.

I am tempted to end this post by giving Kasich one of those grades for which Mark Halperin is infamous  (Style: C+. Substance: B-. Overall: A!) Instead, I’ll adopt the Fox News mantra: I report, you decide! In the meantime, can you spot the intrepid blogger in the photo posted on Kasich’s website? Hint: I’m the uncouth one.

Until next time, hope to see you on the campaign trail!

*An earlier version of this post said “Tuesday”.  Evidently I can’t tell what day it is anymore.

The Media to Trump: Thank You Donald! May I Have Another?

Another day, another poll showing Donald Trump leading the Republican field for the 2016 presidential nomination and another round  of hand wringing by political pundits baffled by The Donald’s staying power. The latest WashingtonPost/ABC national survey has The Donald trumping his nearest Republican rival Jeb Bush by a whopping 10%, 23%-13%. That’s a gain of 18% for The Donald in just under two months, while Jeb’s support has remained static. To be sure, the poll was in the field just as The Donald’s comments regarding John McCain’s war hero status hit the airwaves, so the impact of this latest contretemps may yet to be fully felt in the polls. Still, it is clear that The Donald is exhibiting surprising – at least to the punditocracy – staying power as measured in national surveys of voting-age adults.

Of course, we have seen these types of candidate boomlets before. Political scientists John Sides and Lynn Vavreck documented this process of discovery, scrutiny and decline in their book The Gamble, the definitive study of the 2012 presidential campaign. But Trump’s “discovery” phase has exceeded those of his 2016 Republican rivals in terms of size and duration and, so far, he has sustained and even enhanced his support during the ensuing period of scrutiny.

It is tempting to attribute The Donald’s polling success to some combination of his personal characteristics and his stance on the issues. Perhaps, as some pundits contend, The Donald has tapped into a vein of deep-seated anger among Republican voters. From this perspective, his blunt talk and forthright stance on controversial issues like immigration resonate with a good portion of likely Republican voters. Perhaps. But there is likely a more prosaic reason to explain the Trump phenomenon: he is exploiting the media’s tendency to view nominating contests through the prism of campaign tactics and especially candidate personalities, a point I’ve made in previous posts. Trump has decades of experience in attracting and manipulating media coverage, and he had drawn on that knowledge and training to issue a succession of attention-getting statements that have consistently kept him in the media spotlight. In particular, capitalizing on the media’s focus on candidate personalities, he has turned the Republican nomination contest into a series of personality-driven feuds between Trump and leading members of what might be called the Republican Party establishment. The latest exhibit is Trump’s testy exchanges with South Carolina Senator and presidential candidate Lindsey Graham, culminating in Trump’s decision to give out Graham’s cell phone number during a campaign stop yesterday. “I did it for fun and everybody had a good time,” Trump said during a Fox & Friends interview last night. No, he did it because he knew the story would lead just about every news outlet for the next 24 hours, which it did. Like him or not, The Donald has the media on a string, and they seem only too happy to help him exploit their own vulnerabilities.

Consistent with my argument, in a Monkeycage blog post yesterday Sides and Vavreck show data indicating that Trump has received a disproportionate amount of news coverage since announcing his candidacy. That has surely contributed to his rise in the national polls, much as I suggested in earlier posts.

But does the media have any choice in the matter? In a comment to my last post, Middlebury College student (and presidency seminar alum!) Becky Van Dercook asks, “My one question/comment regarding this post is although the media should be taking Donald’s candidacy seriously, do you think that they shouldn’t be engaging in the outlandish and offensive commentary that he is making at all? And if they do, how can the buffoonish …nature of his commentary be completely ignored?” My short answer is: no, they shouldn’t engage in his outlandish and offensive commentary and yes, they can ignore it. And they should.  However, as I wrote in an earlier post, this does NOT mean relegating Trump to the entertainment pages. “Instead, journalists should take his candidacy seriously by pressing him on the details of his policy pronouncements, and helping the public understand the differences between the public and private sector. The sooner the media begins evaluating The Donald on the details of his policies and his governing expertise, rather than on his deliberately provocative comments designed to mobilize a disaffected public, the sooner The Donald’s political bubble is likely to burst.”  It’s that easy.  When Donald seeks the limelight by saying something outrageous, bury the statement and focus instead on what really matters in a presidential campaign.  If you absolutely must quote The Donald’s more outrageous claims, at least put them in some type of real-world context.

Put simply, the media makes choices about what constitutes “the news” and how it should be covered. There’s no reason why Trump giving out Graham’s cell phone number should have led almost every news story yesterday. And yet the political punditocracy fell all over themselves to report it.

How likely is it that the media will follow my advice regarding how to cover Trump? Not likely at all. That’s  because it has little incentive to do so. As Robert Schlesinger (another proud Middlebury graduate and presidency seminar alum!) acknowledged in his US News column yesterday, “’I’ll be honest, I burst out in giggles of delight when I saw the Washington Post/ABC News poll yesterday showing that Trump had opened substantial lead in the GOP field – not because I believe he has even the remotest chance of becoming the GOP nominee (though that would be fun too) but because it guarantees at a least a few more days of Web traffic Trump-mentum.”

Schlesinger is not the only journalist not-so-secretly rejoicing in Trump’s staying power. Despite the media’s harrumphing and hand-wringing over Trump’s “sideshow” candidacy and how it detracts from a discussion of serious issues, most journalists are absolutely giddy that rather than having to write months of stories analyzing meaningless polls and rehashing stale candidate biographies (Hillary’s pantsuits anyone?), they instead get to wax indignant about The Donald engaging in blood feuds with his Republican rivals. What could be better for a profession that has seen its audience and profit margins dwindling for years?  The Donald is the gift that, so far, keeps on giving!

Of course, it is worth remembering two important points. First, polls this early in the nominating process have very little predictive value in terms of forecasting the eventual nominee. Second, these are polls – not votes. To date, I know of no research indicating whether Trump has put together the infrastructure for an effective ground game in Iowa or New Hampshire. Political science studies indicate that the best way to get people to the polls is to contact them personally.  This is particularly crucial in low-turnout affairs like the Iowa caucus. There’s no evidence as yet that Trump has developed the necessary organization to do this. So, for now, Trump is exhibiting a lot of sizzle. But we have yet to see any steak.

In the short run, of course, the lack of a campaign organization is not likely to dampen media coverage of The Donald. But the next time you see a political pundit publicly weeping over what The Donald is doing to political discourse in this country, pay no attention to those crocodile tears. The media loves The Donald almost as much as he loves himself. And they are more than willing to show their love by engaging in the endless self-flagellation that is the essence of covering Trump’s run for the presidency. Please, please, stop me before I write another Trump story!

Never mind. He just said something newsworthy. Thank you Donald! May I have another?

Addendum 2.29 p.m.: Greg Dworkin points to still another poll, this one in the field after Trump’s war hero comments, that still shows The Donald leading the Republican pack.  So, the early evidence suggests his criticism of McCain apparently hasn’t hurt The Donald among Republican voters.

Why The Donald Trumps the Media (and What They Should Do About It)

With Donald Trump now vying with Jeb Bush for the top spot in the national polls for the Republican presidential nomination, one would think the media would begin more deeply investigating his stance on the issues, or documenting his governing philosophy. Instead, this morning’s Sunday talk shows all featured discussion of The Bombastic One’s latest off-the-cuff personal attack, this one targeting Arizona Senator John McCain for his recent description of Trump supporters as “crazies”.  The Donald, of course, is not one to miss an opportunity to engage in personal warfare against any critic (Rosie O’Donnell anyone?) – indeed, he relishes these public feuds in no small part because he knows they provoke the media coverage that is partly responsible for fueling his meteoric rise to the top of the national polls.

In this instance, Trump responded to McCain’s “crazies” comment by calling McCain “a dummy”. When asked Saturday at the Family Leadership summit about criticizing a war hero, Trump opined, “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.” Because the media has focused on these two sentences, it’s worth putting The Donald’s comments in context – here’s his extended remarks when asked about McCain – notice the audience reaction:

The Donald’s comments about McCain – as he intended – sucked up almost all the weekend media coverage, and left second-tier Republican candidates like Rick Perry trying to bolster their own anemic polling by expressing outrage over Trump’s criticism of a decorated war veteran. That, of course, meant that they spent part of their brief media time talking about The Donald, rather than their own candidacies – which is precisely what The Bombastic one wants.

Trump’s media coverage to date reflects a basic weakness of how journalists cover elections more generally – one I’ve talked about in previous posts: it tends to describe election contests in terms of candidate personalities and campaign tactics rather than focusing on candidates’ issue stances and expertise.  In Trump’s case, we see these media tendencies illustrated in spades. But by characterizing Trump as a bombastic buffoon who shouldn’t be taken seriously (the left-leaning Huffington Post recently announced it would move its Trump coverage to the entertainment pages) journalists are playing directly into Trump’s hands. In fact, his polling support is coming from that part of the electorate that is increasingly dissatisfied with what it views as a corrupt political establishment, one that is not addressing bread-and-butter issues like job creation, trade policy, immigration reform and border security. And the media, like it or not, is often viewed by these voters as part of that establishment.

As a classic example of how not to cover The Donald, look at Martha Raddatz’ interview with him today on George Stephanopoulos’ This Week morning show regarding his war hero comments. She repeatedly tries to publicly shame The Donald for his remarks and to insinuate that he is emotionally unfit to be president, but Trump adroitly uses the opportunity to double down on his earlier remarks and, not incidentally, to reach out to veterans. When the interview concludes Raddatz can barely prevent herself from rolling her eyes at The Donald’s remarks. However, I would not be surprised if Raddatz’ questions and demeanor actually bolstered Trump’s standing with a segment of Republican voters.

The problem with the media coverage, at root, is that its persistence in portraying The Donald as a cartoon figure is at odds with his undeniable accomplishments. While the media chases its tail in trying to hold the Donald accountable for his latest outrageous statement, he uses that coverage to cite his very real track record of getting things done, and to promise that he will reprise that record as President.

But it is in fact Donald’s private sector experience (and concomitant lack of political experience) that is potentially the real vulnerability of his candidacy, if only the media would take the time to examine it. Consider the following anecdote provided by the late, great political scientist James Q. Wilson in his classic book Bureaucracy, which is a study of how government works – or does not work, as the case might be. In the early 1980’s, as Wilson tells the story, the city of New York spent some $13 million dollars across a six-year period in an ultimately fruitless effort to renovate the Central Park skating rink. At this point The Donald stepped in and agreed to renovate the rink for $3 million, with any cost-overrun coming out of his own pocket. Mayor Ed Koch agreed to the deal. Trump completed the rink renovations a month ahead of schedule, and $750,000 under budget.

At first glance, this example seems to feed into The Donald’s argument that as president he would have the expertise and experience to get things accomplished. Indeed, that is precisely the mantra The Donald repeats at every campaign stop – his standard stump speech includes multiple statements that begin: “As President, I will” accomplish some objective, whether it means building a wall to keep out illegal immigrants, or negotiating a more favorable trade deal with the Chinese government, or any number of accomplishments.

But in reciting this story about the skating rink, Wilson is making a more subtle and important point, one that potentially undercuts the relevance of The Donald’s private sector experience as preparation to be President. Wilson is using the skating rink example to demonstrate how the very factors that made the Donald so effective in the private sector are rarely to be found in the political sphere. As Wilson acknowledges, The Donald proved far more efficient than did government in renovating the skating rink. But ultimately public policy is evaluated on more than narrow grounds of economic efficiency – instead, “government has many valued outputs, including a reputation for integrity, the confidence of the people, and the support of important interest groups.” When it comes to skating rinks (or any government program), Wilson argues, “A government that is slow to build rinks but is honest and accountable in its actions and properly responsive to worthy constituents may be a very efficient government, if we measure efficiency in the large by taking into account all its valued outputs.” I would add that governing in the public sphere at the national level requires an understanding of how to address the interests of those, such as members of Congress, whose support is required if the President is to accomplish his objectives.

By extension, Wilson is suggesting that the tactics that work so well for The Donald in the private sector are unlikely to be as effective when it comes to passing public policy. This is because other values – accountability, transparency, and equity – are embedded in our political process to a degree not seen in private sector transactions. As President, The Donald will find that he cannot run roughshod over the political constraints built into our national system of separated institutions sharing power. Building a wall to keep out illegal immigrants will be nothing like renovating the Central Park skating rink, and that is not simply due to the different scale of the projects. It is because the incentives facing political actors, including the President, do not reward them for maximizing efficiency alone, at least in the narrow economic sense. Instead, to achieve one’s goals in the political sphere means utilizing tactics that emphasize “we”, not “I”.  Based on his public statements to date, it is not clear how well The Donald understands this.

So how should the media cover The Donald? Not by ignoring him, or dismissing him as a “farce to be reckoned with”.  Instead, journalists should take his candidacy seriously by pressing him on the details of his policy pronouncements, and helping the public understand the differences between the public and private sector. The sooner the media begins evaluating The Donald on the details of his policies and his governing expertise, rather than on his deliberately provocative comments designed to mobilize a disaffected public, the sooner The Donald’s political bubble is likely to burst. Alas, I have little confidence that most journalists, in this era of dwindling audiences and shrinking profit margins, will be able to resist taking the easy road by dismissing The Donald as a serious candidate.  To date, it is a media strategy that has The Donald laughing all the way to the top of polls.