Why 2016 is Different
The 2015-16 GOP primary offered a political environment where there was no clear-cut favorite. None of the candidates had a clear and established base of supporters. The frontrunner, Jeb Bush, had a toxic last name'something Trump could attack and brand in his unique style. Governor Scott Walker's state of Wisconsin was ranked 40th in private sector job creation, and the state budget faced fiscal woes as well. Other high profile candidates included Rick Perry, who didn't remember which departments he wanted to shut down; Mike Huckabee who has failed to generate any momentum in past elections, Chris Christie who is unpopular with the conservative base; and Carly Fiorina who lost to Barbara Boxer in her senate bid. This field of Republican candidates was the perfect batch for a Trump move.
When it comes to the presidential opponents in the general election, his potential opponents were even weaker than his Republican primary opponents. Hillary Clinton, who even then, was the front runner for the Democrat Party, had the Benghazi scandal hanging over her head'not to mention a litany of past scandals such as White Water. With her track record, Trump could make the name Hillary Clinton synonymous with the words greed, corruption, and criminal ' which become the moniker: "crooked." Additionally, she lacks charisma and grace. Most Americans view Bernie Sanders' affiliations with the socialist party and his touted 90% income tax rate as extreme. By now, many may have forgotten Martin O'Malley'whose image was tarnished by the Baltimore riots. Then there was Jim Webb'who didn't seem likely to fire up the Democrat base with his views on Climate Change and willingness to defend the confederate flag.
Here, Trump finally had the opportunity to go from long shot to favorite. This is the environment he'd been waiting for. But it wasn't just the candidates that gave Trump the edge in this election. It was probably the change in public sentiment and the toxic political environment for establishment candidates that may have enticed him into the political arena.
This environment was perfect for a promoter like Trump'who was anything but a politician. He is brash, confrontational, savvy, straight forward, and rebellious. Unlike past elections, this is what the voters crave: someone who isn't a politician. Trump can deliver just that. Due to their unhappiness with President Obama, he even has a chance to sway African-Americans into voting Republican.
This is the political environment Trump has been waiting for.
How Trump Took the Spotlight from the Other Candidates
Realize Trump has spent years burnishing his brand. He is always marketing himself as a rich and successful businessman. Therefore, he could pay for his own campaign. He didn't need lobbyists' money.
Remember this: Trump didn't become rich by throwing money away or blowing it on a good time. On page 358, he tells about the Wollman Rink that he completed after the New York government failed. In the end, it was $750,000 under budget'which is reflected in his campaign strategy of cost effectiveness.
On page 56 he reveals: "One thing I have learned about the press is that they are always hungry for a good story and the more sensational the better."
Looking back, it is easy to see this principle at work. It exposes his belief that he didn't need to spend as much money as traditional candidates. Yes, his primary campaign had its costs, but, due to his ability to feed the hungry press, it was more cost effective than the other Republican candidates. Trump knows how to generate a story'which garnered him air time, promotional time, and/or marketing time with the media. This led to more TV press and allowed him to receive more interview offers than other presidential candidates. He made his case to people on a more consistent basis than the other candidates.
The media loved that Trump wasn't afraid to broadcast what other people wouldn't even whisper'such as Americans won't elect another black president due to Obama's performance, or more controversial remarks saying McCain wasn't a war hero. Sound bites such as these were made for Twitter and give Trump more coverage, future interviews, and a new medium to communicate his unique message. He followed up the above quotes, stating that there won't be another black president because Obama has not helped out the black community. After his McCain remarks, he added that McCain hasn't helped Veterans get the care they need while acting as a sitting senator and that our country needs to do more to help our veterans.
Additionally, Trump has a huge Facebook and Twitter following. In the age of digital and social media, this made it easier for Trump to generate a sensational story. Whether it's a Twitter fight, or Facebook quote, Trump generates news anywhere, at any time. Remember, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, all those social media accounts are free. Talk about cost effective communication'you don't get more cost effective than free.
Access to social media, combined with Trump's relationship with the press, allowed him to make his case directly to the people on a more regular basis than candidates in past elections were able to do.
The next quote from Art of the Deal that I'll cite is from page 58: "The final key to the way I promote is bravado. I play to people's fantasies. People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do. That's why a little hyperbole never hurts. People want to believe something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole"'which surely reflects the tone of his campaign.
He has said: "I will be the greatest jobs president God has ever created." He'll beat China. He will build a wall and Mexico is going to pay for it. All of which definitely sounds like the guy who wrote Art of the Deal. This "bravado" had the public wanting to communicate with him, instead of a candidate trying to communicate with the public and allowed him to make his case to the people more frequently than his opponents.
It is clear, having spent years building up his following, Trump knows how to use social media. At his fingertips, he has a big audience. He frequently, and effectively, communicates with them.
His political opponents didn't have the time to create a large following or the practice communicating their messages. Instead, their time was spent trying to raise money. This gave Trump a PR edge that his opponents couldn't overcome. He spent less money campaigning and more time communicating. As a result, he owned the spotlight.
Part 3: Wednesday
John Manfreda majored in Pre-Law at Frosburg State Universtiy and received his MBA at Trinity University. He has co-authored The Petro Profit report and dividend stock report, and is a former Bullion Broker. He has been featured in Forbes, the Edmund Burke Institute, The Money Show, the Examiner, and the Smart Money investor. This piece was originally written during the early primary season and predicted Trump's win. It has been updated and revised to reflect the current political environment.