Saturday, September 17, 2016

Hillary's Strange 19th Century "Front Porch" Campaign; Post Election Update

Update post election; Never again will a candidate so insult voters and give their supporters so little enthusiasm by running small venue "events." 

It could not be clearer that now president-Elect Donald Trump's massively attended and constant run of public meetings showed to his rural base supporters that he had enough respect for them to give them a voice in his campaign. The enthusiasm generated must have had a considerable spin-ff effect for him in the communities when attendees went back to their homes.

Hillary's (and Kaine's pathetic attempts) simply further illustrated the elitism which lost her the election/

William McKinley campaigning from his front porch in 1896 (The railways offered excursion tickets to assist getting crowds to his Ohio home)

"A front porch campaign is a low-key electoral campaign used in American politics in which the candidate remains close to or at home to make speeches to supporters who come to visit. The candidate largely does not travel around or otherwise actively campaign.[1] The successful presidential campaigns of James A. Garfield in 1880, Benjamin Harrison in 1888 andWilliam McKinley in 1896 are perhaps the best-known front porch campaigns.

McKinley's opposing candidate, William Jennings Bryan, gave over 600 speeches and traveled many miles all over the United States to campaign, but McKinley outdid this by spending about twice as much money campaigning. While McKinley was at his Canton, Ohio, home conducting his "front-porch campaign", Mark Hanna was out raising millions to help with the campaign."

Up until at least 1860 when Stephen Douglas made a long trip "to see my mother" stopping off at various locations to make (much ridiculed) speeches" it was considered "unseemly to actively campaign for the presidency "let the office and the high honor seek the man."

In 1896 William Jennings Bryan broke the mold (with the exception of Warren Harding's 1920 somewhat front porch campaign) with a cross country barnstorm the likes of which were not seen until Harry Truman's "back of the train" campaign. But, in general, presidential campaigners have used the mass meeting.

A huge stadium filled with raucous supporters was a time honored method of showing the media the strength of your support, getting your message out and energizing voters, particularly the base who would be most likely to turn out for such events.

Barack Obama was a master at this outreach especially to his young supporters who were so crucial to his Electoral College majorities which were run up in the heavily populous states of Florida,New York, California and Ohio.

There can be little doubt the optics of Donald Trump's mass rallies during the primary campaign did much to persuade Republican rank and file voters that the likes of Jeb Bush, whose event attendance was embarrassing, lacked the mass appeal that would be needed to take of Hillary Clinton and the Democratic machine.

But, surprisingly and uniquely in modern presidential campaign history, Clinton has eschewed even one attempt at a mass rally. Further, her campaign events have been, again remarkably, comparatively sparsely attended. There must be a Clinton team strategy behind this but whatever it is it seems, at  least optics wise, to be of little value.

As a negative the contrast between Trump's massive rallies and Clinton's must signal to voters that the enthusiasm for her is, to say the least, lacking. It shows, unless they have been deliberately excluded, that young people have little interest in supporting her, at least as activists

.Further it at least raises the question as to whether she could fill a stadium and if her health and energy are up to make a filled stadium event work.

It may well be that 2016 marks a new watershed where  all the fundraising for television advertising turns out to have been a waste of time and money. It may turn out that mass rallies are a thing of the past. But while Trump "free media" campaign appears to be working as the polls get closer Hillary's low profile campaigning appears to have no positives. 

The media has completely ignored the contrast between Trump's meeting turnout and Clinton's, maybe they, and she will be proven right, but it might also turn out to be a disastrous mistake.