Living in Society

Scattered Talk

Hillary Clinton Walking to the Stage at S.T. Morrison Park, Coralville, Iowa
Hillary Clinton Walking to the Stage at S.T. Morrison Park, Coralville, Iowa

As we live through the final month before the national political party conventions, most people I meet know the presumptive presidential nominees but don’t talk about them.

When they do the dynamic is like this, “I can’t see voting for Trump, but Hillary, you know what you get with her, so I don’t know.”

One person’s perspective is not definitive, yet given the people I know, the dynamic among those newly met has some validity.

If the 2016 general election were to be won or lost on the basis of scattered talk in society (or on social media) that would be a thing. What matters more is work done by the campaigns to register and turn out voters — something less visible than talk inside our social enclaves. By all measures Clinton is working harder and devoting more resources to registering and turning out her voters.

NBC News reported yesterday the Hillary Clinton campaign spent $1.2 million in Iowa this June compared to Trump’s zero dollars. The Iowa Democratic Party relies on presidential money to run its campaign, so the spending is two doses of good news for Democrats. Money to fund IDP operations and Trump’s “different” and thus far losing campaign.

Because of Trump’s celebrity he has been able to distribute a message to voters on the cheap. That served him during the primaries and caucuses. As we turn toward the conventions and the general election, Hillary’s campaign is somewhat predictable, using tried and true methods to win votes. Trump’s is a mystery that includes a Twitter account and public speeches, lacking any perceptible effort to close the deal with voters. If one doesn’t close, there will be no victory.

The Democratic primary churned up a lot of ill will toward Hillary Clinton in the electorate. That’s ridiculous, but also something to take seriously. On the one hand, Democrats continue to get whipped up into a froth about a potential indictment of Clinton (over something, they are not sure what). On the other, we look away from the Republican fraud that took the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya and turned them into political footballs. Clinton has weathered many storms in a long public career, yet the idea initiated during her husband’s administration — open up an investigation of political enemies and let it go on forever — is as effective today as it ever was in generating the false appearance of wrong-doing. Rep. Trey Gowdy’s Benghazi investigation, as with Whitewater, is demonstrating nothing is there. Even he couldn’t say Clinton lied about Benghazi during yesterday’s presser.

Political pundits, bloggers and partisans like to talk the strategy of elections. What I’m seeing, and believe is better information, is in scattered talk among ordinary people who still believe a presidential election is a choice to be made. To the extent the Clinton campaign can get to those voters and bring them home she can win in November. While the prospects look good for Clinton today, it appears her campaign is taking nothing for granted to win voters.

As June ends and the days get shorter it is difficult to see any other general election outcome than a Clinton victory. The scattered negative talk about Clinton will be a factor. One Clinton is almost certain to overcome.