Democratic State of Play
Hillary Clinton versus Bernie Sanders in a boxing match would have the commentators saying that Bernie is on the ropes and facing at best, a TKO, but it the latest Democratic primaries Bernie is KO. Despite being out cold, the latest numbers show that Clinton is the next Democratic nominee. Despite some states still not completed, and even if Bernie won all of them he would still be KO, but Bernie still seems to be trying to hold on…maybe a few too many blows to the head has him confused.
Republican State of Play
Donald Trump versus the rest has been declared a no contest, with the fight awarded to ‘The Donald’. He is the presumptive Republican Party candidate for the Presidency of the Unites States of America, a result hardly expected a year ago, but the people have spoken. Therein lies the secret to Trump’s appeal and success, he speaks to the people and tells them what they would like to hear. Political correctness doesn’t exist in Trump’s book, his motto seems to be “say what has to be said when it has to be said” and damn the consequences. His statements regarding Mexicans and Muslims have resonated with the common man, even if the more elite intelligentsia find them offensive. Trump succeeded in getting the blue collar GOP supporters behind him with the very Archie Bunker type of bluntness that the more sophisticated have found offensive.
Trump versus Clinton
With both the leading contenders for the final bout decided, let’s take a look at what to expect from a Clinton versus Trump bout. Trump has been consistently behind Clinton in the polls, although he seemed to make up a lot of ground around the middle of May when he drew almost level. The latest polls however seem to indicate a reversal with Clinton having opened up a lead with 46% of potential voters favoring her, putting her ahead of the 35% who prefer Trump. The campaigns still have a long way to go and as former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson is reputed to have said in the 1960s, “a week is a long time in politics”, so a lot can change between now and November 8.
The last few days of primary campaigning by Hillary Clinton have seen her directing her attack at Trump and no longer concentrating on Bernie Sanders, which might account for her jump in the polls. Donald Trump, on the other hand, seems to have lost ground after his comments about U.S District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is of Mexican descent, by saying that Judge Curiel had a conflict of interests in presiding over the Trump University matter. Trump has said that he would build a wall along the Mexican border to keep out illegal immigrants and Judge Curiel’s Mexican heritage means that he won’t be impartial. This mixing of a personal business matters with national politics seems to have backfired on Trump, costing him support across the board, hence the lower support in the polls.
The Downside for Trump
While Trump’s in-your-face attitude and personal attacks, often bordering on rudeness, against his Republican primary candidates worked wonders and decimated the GOP opposition, many of the positions he took and statements that he made might come back to haunt him in the very different contest with Hillary Clinton. One of the problems facing Trump is the perception that he is some sort of right wing demagogue as a result of the many extreme right wing fringe organizations that have come out in his support. He might need to come out far more strongly against these so-called supporters if he wants to unite the Republican Party to stand behind him.
Hitting Clinton Below the Belt
We have already seen that it is relatively simple for Hillary Clinton to aim and land jabs at Donald Trump’s body by quoting the numerous contradictory statements he has made in the past year of primary campaigning, highlighting the inconsistency of his policies. Clinton, while not covering herself in glory during her tenure as Foreign Secretary, claims that her vast diplomatic and government experience is one of the reasons that she should be elected. Trump will have to concentrate his punches on the flaws in her defense with regard to Libya and the email scandal in order to score points effectively and to steal support back from her.
Hillary Clinton will no doubt unite the Democratic Party behind her candidacy, while her contest with Bernie Sanders has not been as divisive as the Republican contest appears to have been. One of the problems Trump will face is that conservative Republican commentators, such as Norman Ornstein and William Kristol, have labelled his unique collective policies as “Trumpism”, while a number of senior Republicans are still hesitant about embracing him as their candidate. Another negative for the Trump campaign has been the comparison to Hitler that was made after his request for supporters to raise their right hands in a gesture reminiscent of the Nazi salute. He has been referred to as a right wing populist of the same ilk as European right wing anti-immigrant politicians, such as Geert Wilders and Marine le Pen, by German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel.
The Final Word
Donald Trump might well turn out to be his own biggest enemy in a Presidential battle with Hillary Clinton and might need to become more circumspect and cautious in his utterances. We must not forget that his blunt approach and, oft times, insulting behavior and comments found favor with a large percentage of Republicans, which could well transfer itself to the national stage. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, will find plenty of ammunition to attack, using her current tactic of counterpunching by flinging his own comments back at Trump and asking him to explain his contradictions. Time and the polls will tell us who is the better counter puncher of the two.