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The Trump Kids Effect - Dilbert Blog

The Trump Kids Effect

I finally watched a replay of Donald Trump Jr.’s speech at the GOP Convention. It was a home run for content and delivery. I especially liked his approach of labeling Clinton as the “risky” candidate. That’s good persuasion. No one wants risk in their lives, and you can make a good case that Clinton brings some. It directly counters the impression that Trump is the dangerous choice.

But it was also A-B testing for his dad. If the media picks up on “risk” as a good theme, you will see more of that from Trump himself. But I don’t think it got much traction. 

What I’m starting to sniff in the zeitgeist today is that Trump’s kids are totally changing what people think of the father. People are making the semi-rational assumption that anyone who can raise such good kids must be very different in private than he is on the campaign trail.

That’s what I call a “fake because.” I talked about the “fake because” in relation to the book Influence. Studies described in that book show that people see anything that follows the word “because” as a logical justification for the first part of the sentence even if the second part is nonsense. In other words, we are primed to look for reasons for our actions, and we see those reasons even if none exist.

This brings us to Donald Trump. A large number of voters – I’m guessing about 20% of the public – want to support Trump but find it impossible because of the way he has so far presented himself. His brand is too toxic. So people lay low and wait for a “fake because” so they can throw their support to him. The Trump kids are the “fake because” that people needed. We’re seeing people say stuff like this:

“The way the Trump kids turned out speaks volumes for the father.”

This is code for “I wanted to vote for Trump but it was impossible until I got a good-dad vibe from the kids that I can use for cover.” See the Trump Kids Effect in action with this Frank Luntz focus group. It’s impressive.

Trump still needs to talk plainly about race and gender tonight, and make sure people know he understands the divide created by Clinton’s side – the folks who define the contest as a race and gender war. All Trump needs to say is that Americans are one team, involved in (usually) friendly competition with other countries – and ask people to join the team. The Trump kids already set the table for that. You can almost smell it coming. 

I’ll probably be live on Periscope watching Trump’s speech tonight. Follow me on Twitter and Periscope at @ScottAdamsSays.

You might like the Kindle version of my book because today is a weekday.