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“The Sunday Political Brunch”—November 20, 2016

Sunday, November 20, 2016


I usually wait a week to ten days to weigh in with greater detail on election results. As witnessed on social media, people are really hostile and angry. I get that. Losing – whether a football game or an election - is no fun. People have so much emotionally invested in their choices,, and that’s okay. Passion for politics has kept us as a great incubator of democracy – however imperfect the experiment can be at times. There are some lessons to chat about, so let’s “brunch” on that this week:

“Basket Full of Deplorables” – It’s okay to attack the other candidate, because that’s just how politics works. A Republican candidate calls a Democratic candidate a name, and vice versa. But, when you attack the other candidate’s supporters it’s a whole different story, and often it backfires. This year, when Hillary Clinton referred to half of Trump’s supporters as a “basket full of deplorables,” it failed badly. In 2012, Republican Mitt Romney said, “All right, there are 47 percent who are with him [Obama], who are dependent upon government…who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.” Lesson: It’s okay to insult your opposing candidate, but when you insult the people who actually vote, it can often be political suicide. It does not play well with independent, undecided, or wavering voters.

“Senate Owes Trump” -- A lot of establishment Republicans wanted nothing to do with Donald Trump, and some openly opposed him. But here’s an unmistakable reality from Election Day. Republicans owe control of the Senate to Trump. Yes, Republicans in Florida and Ohio won reelection on their own, without Trump’s help. But in North Carolina, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Pennsylvania, Republican Senate candidates won with great help from Trump’s coattails. If not for Trump, Democrats would have seized control of the U.S. Senate. Watch Cabinet appointments, judgeships, and treaties. The Senate is in Trump’s debt, and he’ll try to cash in!

“House-Keeping” – On the other hand – and this could be troublesome for Trump - the House owes him nothing. Sure, the Republicans lost six seats, but they still hold a big majority. By the way, don’t buy the line about the perceived split or major gulf between Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan. Ryan had to distance himself from Trump so he could help local Congressional candidates win. It was about Ryan holding his own majority in the House. Newt Gingrich did a similar thing in 1996, openly advising more liberal House Republicans, like Rep. Scott Klug (R-WI) and Rep. Tom Campbell (R-CA), to run ads against Newt - if need be - to show their independence. Gingrich still needed them to win – to hold his majority - and his strategy worked.

“The Priebus-Pence Ticket” – Yes, I know the ticket was Trump-Pence, but the real duo to watch is the ticket of Reince Priebus – the incoming White House Chief of Staff – and Vice President Mike Pence. Donald Trump is one of the few Presidents this nation has elected who has never held any other elective office. But the government is not run by the White House alone; Congress and the Federal Courts are the other legs of the barstool. Pence served 12 years in the U.S. House, rising to the fourth-ranking leadership position. Priebus headed the Republican National Committee for six years, and is close to his fellow Wisconsinite, Speaker Paul Ryan. The Priebus-Pence team will be formidable shepherding legislation through Congress.

“Protests Will Fade” -- They are mad about the outcome: Trump won the Electoral College, while Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. I understand the gut-wrenching emotion that brings. But the anger won’t sustain itself. You need an issue to hang your hat on. No one is claiming voter fraud, ballot rigging, voting by the dead, voter intimidation, or any of the other nefarious anti-voter behaviors we often hear about in a close election. Short of any substantive allegations of wrongdoing, the election outcome has finality (though not popular to many), and it stands. People will vent until they get tired, or it’s too cold to be outside.
“2018 Road Map” – If Democrats thought they had a bad night in 2016, it may only get worse. In 2018, Democrats are defending 25 Senate seats (their own 23 and the two independents who caucus with them), while Republicans only defend eight seats. Even though the party out of power in the White House usually gains seats in Congress in the midterm elections, the disproportional number of Democrats defending seats in the Senate does not bode well for the minority party.

“Cheeseheads Rule!” – Okay, I admit my bias as I grew up in Wisconsin, and it will always be home to me. But it may have the most political clout of any state in the nation right now. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is Speaker of the House. Kenosha resident Reince Priebus is RNC Chairman and future White House Chief of Staff. Governor Scott Walker (R-WI) is now Chairman of the Republican Governors Association. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) won reelection on a night everyone predicted he’d lose, thus helping the GOP hold control of the Senate. And, Federal Court of Appeals Judge Diane Sykes is on Trump’s short list of nominees for the U.S. Supreme Court. My only wish is that all this “Cheesehead Power” could somehow help the Green Bay Packers win a few more games and get to the Super Bowl this season!

Skip the politics! Which is your favorite professional football team since I’m claiming the Packers? Just click the comment button at http://www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.


Related Slideshow: 10 Ways Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump Are Actually Similar

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Universal Health Care 

Despite sitting on opposite sides of the aisle, Trump and Sanders essentially share the same healthcare plan. But you don’t have to take our word for it—Ted Cruz, Trump’s chief rival, said himself that Trump and Sanders “have basically the same healthcare plan," in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity.

"Donald Trump enthusiastically supported the TARP bailout of big banks. I opposed it. He enthusiastically supported Barack Obama's stimulus plan. He thought it should have been bigger. I think it was a disaster and a waste of money. Actually, Donald not only supported both of those, but he argued that Obamacare should be expanded to make it socialized medicine for everyone,” Cruz told Hannity

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Reforming Wall Street

Both candidates have made serious noise talking about reforming Wall Street. Bernie Sanders has just about made his whole career on taking on financial kingpins, and has attracted many young fans in the process.

While the uber-capitalist Trump may seem like the candidate to take on his fellow one-percenters, his words say something different. Trump blasted hedge fund managers on CBS, saying they are “getting away with murder,” on CBS’ “Face the Nation" in 2015.

"The hedge fund guys didn't build this country. These are guys that shift paper around and they get lucky,” Trump said.

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They Don't Take Money from Wall Street

It’s not just that the candidates criticize Wall Street and big banks—plenty do that. But Trump and Sanders back up their tough talk by not attracting campaign donations from those same financial institutions.

Sure, Hillary Clinton has taken aim at the major financial mavericks during her time on the campaign trail—what self-respecting Democrat hasn’t? But a closer look at her campaign financials shows that she isn’t putting her money where her mouth is.

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Their Campaigns are Populist Movements

Neither Trump nor Sanders are what you would call a “party darling.” Both have taken aim at the lions and leaders of their own parties have been unafraid to make controversial statements regarding the political establishments.

Instead, their campaigns have been buoyed by passionate, typically politically apathetic people. People who have finally found someone they  can relate to in the political landscape and someone they feel they can trust. Despite repeated predictions of failure, regular people continue to respond to their campaigns, as both Sanders and Trump remain near or at the polls as the primaries begin.

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The Most Unusual Candidates (Ever?)

Trump and Sanders are certainly the most unusual candidates this year, as both the Republican and Democratic fields contain typical governors, senators and congressman vying for the ultimate government job. It goes one step further, however—they may be the most unusual candidates a Presidential campaign has ever seen.

Sure, Trump isn’t the first rich eccentric to take a run at the Oval Office (just google Ross Perot if you don’t believe us.) But he’s certainly the first candidate to speak about immigrants and other races as he has.

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Massive Crowds

Political candidates of any variety like going where they are wanted. They make sure that there are plenty of warm well-wishers to make campaign events see exciting and full.

Trump and Sanders, however, seem to be able to attract raucous crowds that are more akin to rock concert or playoff game than a political rally. People come in costume, dressed as their favorite candidate. Teenagers, even though they cannot cast a vote, turn out in full face paint to support their candidate.

It’s happened all over the country. Record-setting crowds packed the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon and thousands filled the DCU Center to see Trump in Worcester, Massachusetts. Everywhere these candidates go, people rush to see them.

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Lots of Small-Money Donations

Typically, leading Presidential campaigns are powered by big money donations, but that’s not the case for Trump and Sanders.

As Graphiq shows us below, Sanders and Trump are one and two, respectively in the amount of campaign donations under $200—a sure sign of grassroots support.

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Real Talk

How often do you watch and listen to a political speaking, and find yourself drifting off to sleep or reaching for your iPhone?

That rarely seems to be the case when Trump or Sanders are on the mic. You never quite know when Trump will insult an entire religion or ethnic group in one thirty-second soundbite. 

Not to be outdone, Sanders folksy and frantic style of speech has attracted attention—and plenty of jokes and memes—from all across the internet.

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 Slated for Failure

Since the first day that each candidate announced their campaign, the political intellectual and elite have told everyone that they just don’t stand a chance. Trump and Sanders are too controversial, their too radical and they are too inexperienced. How many times did political analysts or other talking heads say they would be out of the race before the first votes are ever cast?

Yet here we are, just a few days away from the first caucuses and primaries. Neither Trump nor Sanders are out of the race. Neither is on their dying breaths. They are thriving. And, as you’ll see in our next slide, they are winning

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Leading in Iowa (and New Hampshire!)

If the latest polls are to believed these massively unusual candidates—one socialist, one real estate magnate/reality tv star, both with tons of small donations, both told they never had any chance—will be making victory speeches in Iowa and New Hampshire soon.

According to CNN, Trump has an 11 point lead among Republicans and Sanders an eight point lead among Democrats in Iowa just a few days before the caucus.

And in New Hampshire, as you’ll see below,  Trump and Sanders have double digit leads as we approach the first true primary.


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