In yet another sign that we are entering perhaps the strangest election seen in living memory, Hillary Clinton is facing criticism from her own donors and supporters over her plans for the economy. It’s not that they disagree with the objectives she’s laying out or the approach she favors toward regulation and interest rates. The problem is that her policy paper is too detailed and wonky, and that’s not something that’s playing well against Donald Trump’s version which consists of four words: Make America Rich Again. (Washington Post)
Nearly two years ago, Hillary Clinton commissioned an armada of white papers on economic policy to prepare for what her team assumed would be a presidential battle with a Republican such as Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio, who were making wonky appeals to the middle class the central planks of their campaigns.
It was a strategic necessity, Clinton later confided to associates. She thought that voters would demand detailed plans from the candidates and reject what she called “easy answers” on the big challenges facing the country…
Campaign officials say they have constantly heard from donors and outside advisers that their candidate needs to strip down her economic message. It’s a challenge, they say, that weighs on them. “You don’t want to be, as the expression goes, bringing a calculator to a knife fight,” said one senior Clinton adviser, speaking on the condition of anonymity to frankly discuss the campaign strategy.
If you get too many political strategists in a room together you eventually come up with explanations like this. They tend to be data driven creatures and the data is currently telling them one thing: people trust Trump more on the economy. That’s fair enough, I suppose, and it should be worrisome to her team of advisors. When you find a soft spot in your numbers you make a adjustments to try to shore it up. But how they made the leap from their starting point to, stop giving so many details is something of a mystery.
If I can offer Team Clinton some unsolicited free advice, I don’t think too much information is necessarily your problem. The real fly in the ointment may be the fact that the survey respondents are being asked a question which involves the words Trust and Hillary in the same sentence. People simply don’t trust her, and you could have substituted any number of other policy areas at the end of that sentence instead of the economy and found some discouraging figures. Trump isn’t offering many details for some reason (I’m not going to speculate as to what that might be) but he has a message that people want to hear. We’re going to win.
If Hillary Clinton wants to be trusted on the economy more than Trump, she first needs to regain the trust of the American public in her character. Good luck with that effort. As a nation I think we’ve gotten to know the Clintons pretty well over the past quarter century and turning any perceptions on a dime at this point is a rabbit she probably doesn’t have in her hat.