by Jeff Lichter, ©2015

(Dec. 23, 2015) — With the likelihood increasing every day that Donald Trump will win the GOP nomination, the overriding critical question becomes can he win the general election.  Fully recognizing that polls are often wrong, it must also be recognized that almost all current polls show Trump as the weakest general election candidate.  It is pretty clear that even as very many in the GOP are fully supportive, there is a potentially sizable portion of them that are so turned off by his campaign style and rhetoric that they will stay home and not vote. Therefore, if even 10-15% of GOP voters stay home it is clear that a much greater number of independents will also be turned off adding to the devastating results leading to a Trump loss. So let’s turn to what Trump must do to avoid losing too many voters that would otherwise support him.

First, and foremost, he must change course and convincingly become presidential in the remaining debates, in all of his speeches, interviews, and associated actions. This means abandoning the schoolyard type name calling in favor of using words and descriptions that are just as critical of his opponents but in a much more analytical manner that shoots the opponent but does not backfire on himself. And these better bullets need to be fired at mostly, (perhaps only) Obama, Clinton, and democrats in general.

Second, Trump needs to target the “Reagan democrats” by appealing to their prior support of Reagan’s economic revival and his foreign policy strength and achievements. He can accomplish this by building deeper on the existing belief that with his business skills and obvious success, he can do the same to cure or at least greatly improve the country’s economic ills. Trump should even reach back far enough to corral Kennedy democrats, by reminding everyone of Kennedy’s tax cuts and how Trump’s own tax cut program should be attractive to them just as Kennedy’s were. In addition, he can do the same on the foreign policy front by claiming and showing how he can negotiate with foreign leaders and bring about extraordinary results just like Reagan did with Gorbachev. And going for the Kennedy lovers, he should point out the obvious with that being that Kennedy was no isolationist aka Cuba, Vietnam etc.  In both the economic and foreign policy fields, Trump must go beyond just saying that “he will make America great again” by clearly detailing the bullet points that will add the winning substance to how he plans to do it. And then after laying out consistent substantive plans in the appealing and rallying type rhetoric that then ends in “and there my fellow Americans is HOW I will make America great again”, he will solidify the complete and total support of not only all GOP voters but these Reagan and Kennedy democrats as well.

Another key demographic he needs to corral is the often cited “Hispanic vote”.  Trump must significantly reverse the cited damage that he has done to this community by his position on illegal immigration. He can win a large percentage of them back by emphasizing and detailing, again in a substantive bullet point style, just how he will create and improve the job situation for them. This and other measures will appeal to the many Hispanics that actually currently oppose the illegal immigrants coming from Mexico and elsewhere that threaten their own jobs.  Other measures Trump can employ to win at least as many of these votes that Bush and Romney acquired would be to parade out the many Hispanics currently employed by him, some even very long term. He could feature some of them on TV and radio ads, particularly on Hispanic stations.  He could also make it a point to campaign directly in front of their audiences, such as some of their large conventions and other gatherings. In short, he needs to reach out to try to convince them that he really does love them, as long as they are here legally.

On foreign policy, Trump should lay out his complete and comprehensive strategies which would be effective to implement over all or most of the major problems troubling the world currently.  He could do this with a winning impact even without as he says “not wanting to reveal all of the details which will be later employed but need to be kept secret in order to be effective”.  Trump just needs to go a few steps beyond just stating things like “I will build the wall and make Mexico pay for it” and stop there. Even if he lists relative generalities as to how he plans to accomplish his objectives, it will be much better than his current one sentence proclamations and will be enough for many voters.

Two additional winning strategies would be as follows:  No candidate has ever done this, but it could be a welcome breakthrough for him to arrange and announce in advance just who would be his cabinet choices.  He would have already announced his vice presidential choice at the nominating convention in Cleveland. But since the Republican party is loaded with so many prominently strong presidential candidates (compared to the weak Democrats) who are currently receiving so much publicity, to put them officially on his team before the election could be a tremendous vote gathering technique.

One final campaign tip for the Donald is to adopt Reagan’s style of public speaking.  We all know Donald likes to be Donald and nobody else but if he wants to win and defeat Hillary, he needs to be much more like Reagan. Specifically, he needs to speak about America much more and about himself much less. One of the very many criticisms of Obama has been how much he uses the word “I” in all his speeches. Well, Donald is basically doing the same thing so often talking about himself. Reagan knew that the people wanted to hear about America.  Reagan always used stories that were about the country in one way or another, i.e., the famous expression of the “shining city on the hill” and so many others. To do the preceding, increasing the talk about America and decreasing the self-references fits right in with his campaign theme of “making America great again”.  So, Donald, get on with telling us how to reach this greatness again and you can easily do it by reminding us of Reagan.

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