Sunday, July 19, 2015


Trump Certainly Knows How To Hit
In a post about what finally makes Donald Trump "flame out," The Omnivore put a spectacular gaffe at 2%. A lot of people think we've just seen that happen.

What Was The Gaffe?

Trump was answering questions from Republican pollster Frank Luntz on stage when he declared that John McCain, who spent six years as a POW in Vietnam, was not a war hero. Trump went on to express his preference for soldiers who weren’t captured, suggesting a belief that prisoners of war have some say in their captivity. Luntz had asked Trump about his reaction to McCain’s comment that Trump had stirred up the “crazies” with his candidacy. When Trump attacked McCain, Luntz asked if Trump was comfortable with that kind of criticism of a war hero. 
“He’s not a war hero,” said Trump. “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.” The comments clearly shocked the crowd at the summit, some of whom reacted with boos and shouts of condemnation.
Twitter blew up, Rick Perry pounced, and for some reason, when asked about it, Carson whiffed saying that whether McCain was a war hero or not depended on how you define 'war hero'.

The Headlines!

The blogosphere is presently lit-up with pundits rushing to discuss whether Trump's campaign has folded or not!
Is Trump's campaign going down in flames? Let's look.

Is Trump Out?

There are two basic questions about the Trump campaign and this gaffe:
  1. Will his current supporters sour on him?
  2. Will this comment put a lid on his total numbers? Will it limit his ceiling?

Trump's Current Supporters

There is some conjecture about who, exactly, is supporting Donald Trump--but it appears to be a substantial portion of the likely-voter base (and it seems to skew older). In any event, The Omnivore is going to conjecture that the kind of people who comment on conservative web-sites are the kinds of people who are Trump's base (even if Trump's base is largely composed of people who don't post). To that event, The Omnivore went through three websites comments sections and categorized the responses as Strong Like (for Trump) to Strong Dislike (for Trump) and Changed. 

The Changed category was a poster saying "I used to support Trump--but not any more after this." The Omnivore did his best to count a given poster only once. Note that there were many more responses to the articles here--but The Omnivore only has so many hours in the morning before the kids wake up.

These are the responses:

What we see here is interesting. The NRO is one of the least friendly to Trump sites on the Internet--it has the highest proportion of Strong Dislike to Strong Like. Even there, when you add in the "weak versions" it's clear that across the board Trump wins.

Also notable is that almost nobody changed sides (and the one that did was questionable).

This tells The Omnivore that Trump didn't cross a red-line for his base of support.

What About A Ceiling?

This is a harder lift since it involves knowing the future--but The Omnivore is looking at this chart:
This chart from the Wall Street Journal shows the abrupt rise by Trump in the polls. We can also look at RCP's poll aggregate which is even more abrupt:
That vertical blue-line at the far right is Trump.
The Omnivore thinks that if Trump's other . . . disadvantages* . . . haven't put a cap on his current level of support this new gaffe won't seriously limit it either. Of course we'll see.


Gaffes are most damaging when they play into the candidate's negative brand--such as Rick Perry being stupid and his "Oops" moment. This also applies to Carson saying extreme things that he can't really back up and don't really make sense (not ready for Prime Time). If Scott Walker makes a really bad gaffe on foreign policy right now he'll probably feel it (the gig on him is that he lacks the chops for national defense).

In the case of Trump, though, is positive brand is that he's a fighting-fighter who fights with fighting. He's a one-man fight-club and hitting John McCain back plays perfectly into that brand. Plus, as far as The Base is concerned, McLame is a RINO who threw the '08 election away and gave us Obama (and said nice things about him at one point!). Trump, for example, would never call out a radio talk-show host for repeatedly using Obama's middle name.

Even some really toxic gaffes (the 47% Romney gaffe) usually don't show that much movement in the polls. For Romney, this was probably because people who liked him--or might possibly like him--agreed with the 47% comments and Romney got more grief from the base for backing down on them.

Trump, on the other hand, doubled down (to an extent: he hasn't apologized to McCain--but he did tweet that servicemen were heroes).

The Omnivore doesn't think this is going to hurt him much.

NOTE: This is Trump's "apology" posted on Facebook. It is perfect for him:
  1. It continues to hit John McCain--and on the right notes (Veterans Affairs and JM's 'Crazy' comments)
  2. It does express respect for veterans.
  3. It uses ALL CAPS in the right place.
  4. It reinforces the illegal immigration issue he has built his campaign on.
Basically, Trump shows that he has an intuitive grasp on messaging and attacking that is similar to what Sarah Palin displayed. She was, in fact, very adept in a fight and turn-of-a-phrase ("Death Panels"). This apology will probably give Trump all the air-cover his supporters need to keep supporting him.

I am not a fan of John McCain because he has done so little for our Veterans and he should know better than anybody what the Veterans need, especially in regards to the VA. He is yet another all talk, no action politician who spends too much time on television and not enough time doing his job and helping the Vets. He is also allowing our military to decrease substantially in size and strength, something which should never be allowed to happen.
Furthermore, he was extremely disrespectful to the thousands upon thousands of people, many of whom happen to be his constituents, that came to listen to me speak about illegal immigration in Phoenix last week by calling them "crazies".
These were not "crazies"---these were great American citizens.
I have great respect for all those who serve in our military including those that weren't captured and are also heroes.
I want to strengthen our military and take care of our Veterans. I want to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN especially for those that serve to protect our freedom. I am fighting for our Veterans!

Will Graham: I thought you might enjoy the challenge. Find out if you're smarter than the person I'm looking for. 
Hannibal Lecter: Then, by implication, you think you're smarter than I am, since it was you who caught me. 
Will Graham: No, I know I'm not smarter than you. 
Hannibal Lecter: Then how did you catch me? 
Will Graham: You had... disadvantages. 
Hannibal Lecter: What disadvantages? 
Will Graham: You're insane. 

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