Trump fired Corey Lewandowski yesterday. Is that bad or good?
Well, if you are on the Clinton team, you try to frame it as campaign chaos, and evidence that Trump doesn’t hire the best people.
But let’s look at the firing through a persuasion filter. If you are Paul Manafort, and you want to send a clear signal that the Trump campaign plans to do a post-convention pivot to a more presidential vibe, what’s the best way to do that?
Answer: Fire Corey Lewandowski.
I assume there were some internal power struggles, which would be normal as new advisors join the team. But the timing of the firing cleverly turned it into a persuasion signal. Firing an advisor who is that close to you is a strong move. And it actually fits the story that Trump is good at hiring. Wait, what?
A very-rich entrepreneur recently told me that the secret of hiring a good team of people is being ruthless in firing your mistakes. Lewandowski was the right guy for the primaries – evidently – but perhaps not a good fit for the general. If Trump can fire a close advisor and personal friend in this situation, do you worry that he can do it while President?
Being good at hiring is only useful if you are good at firing. No one can hire perfect people who stay that way through all situations. When the situation changes, or the people change, you have to prune. Trump pruned Lewandowski at what appears to be the right time for the signal it sends.
The media is reporting that Clinton is massively funded compared to Trump. The implied assumption is that the funding gap will make a big difference to the final result.
You’ve seen enough political ads to know they don’t attempt to be accurate. Political ads are designed to persuade, not inform. And those ads must work, because everyone says so. If you believe political ads change elections, that means you believe persuasion is sometimes more important than policy.
Persuasion is the only battlefield that matters. Facts and reason are not important to the outcome of this election, or any other.
Clinton will need every dollar she can get to match Trump’s powers of persuasion. As the GOP nominee, Trump will get all the airtime he needs. And because he is interesting, he will get more attention than any other candidate in the same situation.
Also, social media is a far bigger deal today than in any prior presidential election. Most of my friends claim they don’t watch television. And the few who admit to watching television record their shows and skip the commercials.
Jeb Bush’s campaign funding didn’t help him against Trump. So we have one data point telling us that political ads don’t work in 2016, at least against Trump. One data point isn’t a trend, and primaries aren’t the general election. But if television ads are persuasive in 2016, would we have GOP nominee Trump? It seems unlikely to me.
The Clinton team is fighting the war of 2008, using the tools of that era. Trump is dominating social media and gobbling up free TV time. Those are the tools of 2016.
Do you know why you didn’t realize TV ads are less effective these days? Because the only people who could tell you that rely on political ads for their profits. You won’t hear anyone on CNN or FOX tell you that ad dollars are less useful than they were in the past.
That said, massive spending on TV ads will move the needle a little. But at the same time, if the funding difference persists, it paints Clinton as the big-money candidate who is owned by the donors. Persuasion-wise, that’s suicide.
Oh, and the big Republican donors are moving their money to the down-ballot Republicans. So…if political ads still matter when NOT running against Trump, you should see Republicans doing well this election even if there is some Trump-drag on their reputations. So that’s a big deal.
I endorsed Hillary Clinton for my personal safety because I live in California. I write about Trump’s powers of persuasion and it would not be safe to be mistaken for a Trump supporter in my zip code. Plus, I’m a top-one-percenter, so I don’t want to rock the boat. Things are good for me right now. You folks might want some change, but not me.
Speaking of safety, do you think the mainstream media gave enough attention to the recent Trump assassination attempt? Ask yourself if that would have been a bigger story if a Trump supporter tried the same thing with Clinton.
I turned off the Disqus comments because the moderator tool doesn’t work –for me at least – and there were too many racist/sexist trolls coming in from fake accounts just to cause trouble. I might turn on comments again after the election. Or sooner, if I get a better moderator tool, but frankly it is my lowest priority.
Feel free to comment on Twitter. I see all of those at @scottadamssays and I block the racists when they get out of control.
If you miss the comments on this blog, you might like my book.