Donald Trump is likely to embark on a victory tour of states he won in last week’s election, his campaign said Thursday.
“We’re working on a victory tour now, it will happen in the next couple of weeks,” campaign advance team director George Gigicos told reporters in Trump Tower. “After Thanksgiving”
When asked where, he said “obviously to the states that we won and the swing states we flipped over,” according to a pool report.
Pre-inaugural rallies are probably the best thing he could do to get the public on his side before he takes office. There are always interviews, but he can’t control the message in an interview as totally as he can at a rally. And interviews have none of the energy that a rally does. If you want wary Americans to feel better about Trump, have him give a few conciliatory speeches carried live on cable news about how he hopes to be a president for all Americans in front of an audience that adores him. And for cripes sake, don’t just do it in red states and swing states. Drive home the point about outreach to Democrats by giving speeches in California and Chicago. Trump is usually magnanimous after a big win and he’ll never have a bigger win than he just had. This is a chance for him to show off the magnanimity. If nothing else, it’ll remind skeptics in blue enclaves that a lot of people across the country love him. That’s a weird thing to say for a guy who just won a national election, but between the tone of the media coverage to come and the fact that he lost the popular vote, an occasional reminder might be useful.
Just understand that if this works to raise his approval rating, it’ll mainstream the idea of a “perpetual campaign” for all presidents to come. That idea has already been partly mainstreamed by Obama, but O didn’t continue to hold rallies during the transition period after his 2008 campaign ended. If Trump gets a boost from this, his successor will surely follow his example in 2021 or 2025. And if Trump stays on the trail semi-consistently during his presidency, that practice will be emulated too. (He’s already set a lot of new precedents in politics over the last 18 months. What’s one more?) What’ll be interesting, if he makes a habit of this, is how the rallies will change in tone over time as he starts to encounter setbacks in his presidency. The “victory tour” will be pure sunshine, I’m sure — this is gonna be great, we have big plans and the best people, give me a chance and I’ll make you proud. What will the rallies sound like next year, though, if Paul Ryan unexpectedly won’t play ball on a trillion-dollar infrastructure bill and Senate Democrats are killing him over the GOP’s new health-care law? Will they turn into extended rants about his enemies, Lyin’ Paul and Chuck the Schmuck? That won’t go over as well outside his base. But that practice too will be replicated by successors.
Speaking of Trump’s victory, let me share this tidbit from a Politico story about the rare few pollsters who did see strength in his numbers where others didn’t. This from Robert Cahaly of Trafalgar Group, an outfit that nailed the brewing upsets in Michigan and Pennsylvania, may sound familiar:
[W]hat we experienced was a pattern that was so unnatural we knew there had to be something to it.
I grew up in the South and everybody is very polite down here, and if you want to find out the truth on a hot topic, you can’t just ask the question directly. So, the neighbor is part of the mechanism to get that real answer. In the 11 battle ground states, and 3 non-battleground, there was a significant drop-off between the ballot test question [which candidate you support] and the neighbors’ question [which candidate you believe most of your neighbors support]. The neighbors question result showed a similar result in each state: Hillary dropped [relative to the ballot test question] and Trump comes up across every demographic, every geography. Hillary’s drop was between 3 and 11 percent while Trump’s increase was between 3 and 7 percent. This pattern existed everywhere from Pennsylvania to Nevada to Utah to Georgia, and it was a constant.
That’s familiar because Republican pollster Patrick Ruffini made the same point a few days ago about Trump’s polling in the primaries, as I noted right here. To get an accurate view of Trump’s support, it seems, it wasn’t enough to ask people how they themselves were voting; you had to ask them how they thought their neighbors were voting, and if Trump scored high on the neighbors question, chances are he was going to do better in that area than you might think from the basic “who are you voting for?” responses. That may not be a “shy Trumper” effect, of which there’s good reason to doubt, so much as a pro-Trump late-decider effect. If you were on the fence and you lived in an area where you knew most people around you were voting Trump, that might have persuaded you to support Trump too. Remember, he won big among late deciders in all of the most important states. Basic social cues from one’s community help explain why.
But he also had help from a surprisingly incompetent Clinton campaign. HuffPo has been collecting organizational horror stories:
In Michigan alone, a senior battleground state operative told HuffPost that the state party and local officials were running at roughly one-tenth the paid canvasser capacity that Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) had when he ran for president in 2004. Desperate for more human capital, the state party and local officials ended up raising $300,000 themselves to pay 500 people to help canvass in the election’s closing weeks. By that point, however, they were operating in the dark. One organizer said that in a precinct in Flint, they were sent to a burned down trailer park. No one had taken it off the list of places to visit because no one had been there until the final weekend. Clinton lost the state by 12,000 votes…
A senior official from Clinton’s campaign noted that they did have a large staff presence in Michigan and Wisconsin (200 and 180 people respectively) while also stressing that one of the reasons they didn’t do more was, in part, because of psychological games they were playing with the Trump campaign. They recognized that Michigan, for example, was a vulnerable state and felt that if they could keep Trump away ― by acting overly confident about their chances ― they would win it by a small margin and with a marginal resource allocation.
Every large campaign inevitably ends up making organizational mistakes, and those mistakes become magnified if they end up losing. If 110,000 votes in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania had flipped the other way, we would have spent the last nine days reading quotes from angry anonymous RNC staffers ripping Trump for making them shoulder the ground-game load alone. That’s politics. But even so — re-read that second paragraph in the excerpt and try to imagine concluding that that was a good idea strategically. Team Hillary had every advantage in terms of money, organization, and big-name surrogates; they also had every reason to expect that Trump might pose an unusually lethal threat in the Rust Belt given how well he’d polled with working-class whites all year. Basic prudence suggests that they should have competed there aggressively on the assumption that those states were in play. Instead, they more or less assumed that the blue wall would hold. The negligence is unimaginable. Enjoy another 30 years of Republican control of the Supreme Court, Democrats.