The Grand Old Party opened its virtual national convention Monday night, Aug. 24, to complete "the start of the final scene" of the 2020 presidential election season. The theme of the first night was that Democrats are intent on destroying America and changing our country's way of life as we know it. President Trump and the party spokesmen called for policy to protect the cultural mores of social stability enmeshed in our societal fabric.
The national news outlets described the atmosphere of the tenor as dark. Their conclusion was that the strategic purpose of the call was to shore up the base. Again, they miss the point as they misunderstand the motives of the American electorate.
President Trump knows that his base is solid. The Democratic vision is so liberal that it presents everything necessary to secure the conservative voting bloc for the president. What progressives ignore, and the press refuses to analyze, is that the American public is a right-of-center society and has been since World War II. On a multitude of issues, the identified conservative coalition of voters in a presidential cycle has averaged 65%. The liberal coalition, therefore, is 35%.
A further breakdown simplifies the analysis. 30% of the public desire more government in their pursuit of personal security. 30% of the public believe inherently that less government is the path to opportunity and personal freedom. 30% are driven by the need for personal economic security. 10% at any given time are in prison, seriously ill or otherwise incapacitated. When issues become complicated, the public's default position is always to what provides security, what provides freedom or what provides economic sustainability.
For the past two years, and just prior to the pandemic crisis, the election profile for President Trump was basically unchanged. 34% loved the president and loved his policies. 37% hated the president and hated his policies. 15% disliked the president personally but liked his policies more than they disliked his personality. And last, 14% liked his policies but disliked his personality more than they liked his policies. Among likely voters, if the election were held in January, President Trump would have lost the popular vote 49% to 51%, but won the Electoral College.
Those numbers have now shifted since the pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis, but only among the 29% swing vote who dislike him personally but like his policies. What is important to recognize is that, without considering personalities, 63% of the American public like the president's policies. 37% detest those policies.
All of these opinion percentages are consistent with the historical averages of the 1 to 10 scale and the swing vote. America is not a left-of-center nation.
What defines the swing vote? They believe in a strong national defense. They want the nation's borders secured for reasonable immigration policy. They seek local control of schools (a 10th amendment issue that authority which is not specifically given to the federal government in the Constitution defaults to the individual states.) They desire a balance to be determined between LGBTQ rights and religious rights. They are committed to racial equality. For economic policy, they are clear on less government regulation for small business, reasonable taxes and accountability for government spending. If the Independent Party had a party platform, it would include these policy positions.
As noted in the last Nuttle Report, 44% of the American public are now registered as Independents, a majority having left either the Republican or Democratic Party. The problem is there is no Independent Party infrastructure to sound the clarion call for common sense.
The Democratic Convention stressed Joe Biden's character as calm, discerning, compassionate and empathetic. The campaign strategy is to portray him as "Father Joe" to the church of the American body politic. The sounding alarm was that Donald Trump's personality is monstrous. And, in civility alone, the country will survive, heal and prosper. In that message was the hidden theme to moderate Republicans who like Trump's policies but dislike him personally. It's OK to vote for personality over policy.
The GOP Convention emphasized that the Democratic Party policies are monstrous. They must be confronted and fought in the trenches at every point of advancement. The theme echoed the warning that there can be no compromise. The image invoked was that of Winston Churchill defying the passivists who sought negotiated settlement with Hitler. Any foothold of socialism is an unacceptable encroachment on the framework of freedom. President Trump has said he is the only thing that stands between America and chaos. In such an allegory, he is "Winston Trump." The overt message to moderates who like his policies but dislike him personally, is that it's OK to vote for policy and tolerate personality.
The Democrats are perplexed in that President Trump leads Joe Biden 48% to 38% on who can best solve the problems of the economy. How can that be, they ask, when the economic crisis happened on his watch? Put in the historical context of the above graphics, it's easy to see. The swing vote defaults to the freedom side of the scale for solutions if available. What's most interesting is that, for the first time since the Great Depression, the economy may be in such jeopardy that the public does not trust the Democrats to permanently restructure it without moving the American system into socialism. This could tilt the scale of election decisions based upon security versus opportunity to the side of freedom.
If the 29% swing voters decide that their economic sustainability is paramount in their decision-making process for whom to vote, a majority may choose policy over personality.
If the election comes down to a comparison on presidential personality only, Biden wins. If the election comes down to a comparison on policy only, Trump wins.
In deciding between "Father Joe" versus "Winston Trump," measure carefully the matrix of the next four years. Regardless of who is elected president, on Nov. 4, the day after the election, the challenges of the economy, foreign policy and cultural values facing America will require emergency attention.
The first step of the first day for the first policy solution will define the future for a generation.
Marc Nuttle is a lawyer, economist, author, consultant and businessman. He has represented and advised presidents of the United States, leaders of foreign countries, state officials and corporations. He has lectured around the world on government policy and economic trends. He has advised the United States government, foreign governments and state governments on the budget process, trade, economic development, currency management, domestic and foreign policy and was part of President Ronald Reagan's international trade team in the 1980s.
This article originally appeared at marcnuttle.com.
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