The Final Debate and the Final Push
10/22/2016 by Dylan James Harper
After two contentious primaries in ’08, a contentious republican primary in ’12, and two contentious primaries in ’16, you would have thought that the weirdest debates would be behind us; you would have been wrong. In what has to be the strangest series of debates at any nationally televised level in history, the hashtag spawning, ad hominem focused killer of Mike Wallace’s credibility and reputation that was the final debate was the culmination we all deserved. Let’s recap it before looking ahead at the final weeks of the election.
Hillary Clinton won. There is no other way around it. I’m not sure if anyone on Trump’s staff has the awareness or forethought to have coach Trump in any way, but if they did, they surely shattered their TV about twenty-four minutes into the debate. I think what we were likely witnessing is the last republican candidate who completely misunderstands low information voters. Anyone on the left reading this will be quick to say “well all Trump supporters are low information!” but that’s not the case. There is an ample amount of low info voters up for grabs, and there are two things they do not like: liars, and whiners. Trump, for whatever reasons, continues to act like both.
Now, I’m not making an ethical case against Trump, just explaining why his debate failed. He doesn’t seem to understand that the “low information voter” of old, let’s call them Joan and Cletus, doesn’t exist anymore. Instead of not reading the newspaper very often, and only occasionally watching the local news, the digital equipment of the low information voter gets hit over the head with literally thousand of headlines, constantly. Controlling the flow of that tide of information is no small task, but it’s one that’s done by controlling those headlines. When Trump makes unprecedented-for-a-modern-president-to-make statements, such as the election being “rigged” against him, he’s all but guaranteeing a slew of headlines on that topic. This effectively blocks the doorway to Joan and Cletus because instead of learning new information that might sway them to vote for Trump, they’re only hearing about that one thing.
The same goes for the poorly thought out lying that Trump’s own Tweets disprove. It’s too easy to check back on that stuff and, once it comes out that it’s not true, particularly when it is gratuitous, again, it’s going to dominate the headlines. This isn’t to say lying doesn’t happen in debates constantly. Every candidate from the primaries on up has lied in a debate. It’s what you lie about that determines how it will get passed down for Joan and Cletus to decimate. Lie about a statistic? An attitude? A belief? Those types of fact checks are either impossible to perform or are going to be buried in esoteric pages far from the eyes of Joan and Cletus.
Alright, so Hillary won the final debate. Can Trump do anything to catch her? Almost certainly not. The media hates to say it’s a forgone conclusion (and why wouldn’t they? A close game is always going to sell more seats), but even the big names are having a hard time pretending it’s going to be close. It won’t be a Reagan-esque landslide like some predicted, but as of right now, it’s going to be a comfortable win, possibly greater than either of President Obama’s comfortable victories.
“…but Wikileaks!” I hear some still standing Bernie Sanders supporters shouting. Wikileaks obvious support (passive or otherwise) of Trump would be a thorn in the side of Clinton if the GOP hadn’t overfed the public scandals about her for the last thirty or so years. The average person just does not care about Clinton scandals anymore. Every major Clinton scandal has been followed by an uptick in the economy and lower gas prices, so the public just doesn’t care. Not only that, Wikileaks doesn’t seem to have anything of actual value. Sure, it’s not a good look to have the DNC exchanging anti-Semitic rhetoric about Sanders, and it’s something I sincerely hope the democrats get cleaned up in the offseason, but Joan and Cletus do not care. Short of mass poll intimidation in swing states, a scandal of massive proportions that even Joan and Cletus will have to care about, or Clinton being struck by lightning, this election appears to be all but over.
Dylan James Harper is the Chief Political Editor for CSuiteMusic
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