It looks like we’ll have a Clinton versus Trump contest for the White House.
The last time Trump and Clinton mixed it up hard, Clinton called Trump sexist and Trump responded that she was an enabler for her husband’s womanizing. In summary:
– Clinton accused Trump of being anti-woman
– Trump accused Clinton of being anti-woman
I wonder if we have seen all of the permutations of gender politics. I doubt we will see Clinton accuse Trump of being anti-male. That wouldn’t stick.
But we haven’t seen Trump accuse Clinton of being anti-male. And that would stick like tar. He might be saving that one for later.
Remember that Linguistic Kill Shots such as low-energy, little Marco, and robotic generally have two characteristics that make them work:
1. The label must be a fresh one you have not seen in politics.
2. Voters must be reminded of the label every time they see or hear the subject.
I’ve never heard a politician call another one anti-male. So this approach qualifies on the freshness dimension. And any time you hear Clinton talk about making the world better for women – which is obviously a legitimate goal – it would remind you she cares less about men, even if that isn’t true. (We don’t know what is in her head.)
Trump could frame Clinton as anti-male without ever saying “anti-male.” The exact words matter less than the concept. But the words do need to be catchy in some way, so everyone wants to repeat them.
My gut feeling is that men will abandon Clinton every day from now until November unless Trump murders a baby on live television. Otherwise, I think Trump wins easily with men.
But women are the interesting wild card in this scenario. For the sake of discussion, let’s say half of Clinton’s female supporters have a grudge against men. That seems about right if you consider all the attention on gender discrimination. Now add to that all the abusive relationships women have experienced, both personally and professionally, and you have plenty of reasons for women to be anti-male, even if only subconsciously.
But the hypothetical half of women that do not have a grudge against men would run like the wind to avoid being labelled anti-male. It goes to identity. And identity is always the strongest level of persuasion. The only way to beat it is with dirty tricks or a stronger identity play.
Trump is well on his way to owning the identities of American, Alpha Males, and Women Who Like Alpha Males. Clinton is well on her way to owning the identities of angry women, beta males, immigrants, and disenfranchised minorities.
If this were poker, which hand looks stronger to you for a national election?
I pause here to remind you that I don’t agree with any of the candidates on policies. I’ll blog more on that later. My interest is in Trump’s persuasion skills.
Changing the topic just a bit…
Prediction: I predicted on Twitter that Trump would solve his “third act problem” (of being an accused racist) by going to the high ground of love. He already says he loves his supporters, and he loves his family, and wounded veterans, and his country. But that won’t be enough. To solve for being an accused racist he would need to say he loves the groups that hate him. And he would have to say it often.
Why would people believe Trump? Simple. Racists can’t say in public that they love the people they really hate. They can’t sell that kind of lie, so they would avoid the situation entirely. On some level you know that.
So expect some love coming soon. That’s the ultimate high ground. You can’t mock it and you can’t top it.