Judging by our feedback, readers can’t seem to get enough of our non-partisan political analysis. Many readers have requested a posting that contains a complete listing of MLLG’s principles of American politics. This post fulfills that request.
Presidential elections are influenced by, inter alia, parties, candidates, events, issues, ads and debates. Based on American political history and tradition, MLLG has identified eight enduring principles that exert an outsized effect in determining who wins; such principles usually transcend parties, candidates, issues and events. These principles provide you a strong foundation to better understand the 2020 election.
1. America is a center-right country. Forget this principle and you get a Goldwater or McGovern-like outcome. This remains true in 2020; all the prattle about democratic socialism is limited to about 20% of the population. The only center-left candidates elected in the past 75 years were Carter and Clinton, southern state governors, and Obama, who ran as a centrist, was a rare political talent and faced insipid competition.
2. Economics trumps all else. Clinton’s mantra “It’s the economy, stupid.” was exactly on target. If the economy in 2020 remains robust, it creates a powerful tailwind for the incumbent. Every econometric model shows Trump winning handily if the economy remains strong. Voters always reward a politician who makes them better off.
3. There are no permanent majorities. Issues, positions, alliances and demographics continually shift and minority parties skillfully adapt. Movements of all types get subsumed into larger groups. This principle is not relevant to the 2020 election.
4. Money is important but not dispositive. Clinton spent $1.2 billion to Trump’s $600 million in 2016 and still lost. Any serious candidate will get the necessary funding. Spending money has diminishing returns and, at some point, negative returns – a case in point being Huffington’s 1994 CA senate race. Money will not be a factor in 2020.
5. Incumbency is powerful. In the past 126 years, only 2 elected presidents lost head-to-head elections. Americans always vote for the fool they know over the devil they don’t. This principle, ceteris paribus, confers great advantage to Trump in 2020.
6. The longer a party is in power, the more likely it is to lose. With only the exceptions of FDR and the post Civil War era, we must go back 225 years to see any party in power for more than 12 consecutive years. This is not a factor for 2020.
7. Define yourself before your opponent does; as a corollary, define your opponent before he does. It is essential to define who you are with the electorate; failure to do so lets your opponent define you. Like a good joke, defining yourself and your opponent must contain some truth to be effective. Trump is a master of this principle and he employed it to great effect in the 2016 primaries and general election.
8. Polls and approval ratings have limited value. The value of polls lies in identifying issues and sentiment more than who is ahead or behind. Polls today are notoriously inaccurate and undercount Trump support by 3-5 points; no major poll predicted a Trump victory in 2016. Don’t get too worked up over early polls, or any polls for that matter. Remember that many Americans don’t seriously focus on elections until after Labor Day and often don’t decide until weeks, or even days, before an election. Carter led Reagan well into October, yet Reagan ended up winning 44 states.
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As you watch the 2020 election drama unfold, there is one wild card with the potential to utterly disrupt politics as usual. I am referring to the “blexit” movement, i.e. the black exit from the Democratic Party. MLLG was among the very first to identify this trend in our February 12, 2017 post (see it on our website: www.mllg.us). Next week’s post is devoted 100% to blexit. This is a post you won’t want to miss!
Blexit – the black exodus from the Democratic Party – is next up on June 2nd.