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This blog offers an international look at the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. Indeed, campaigners worldwide are fascinated with American election campaigns. We observe relentless paid television advertising, straight-forward attack spots, sophisticated targeting and record-breaking fundraising. One cannot – and should not – simply copy paste American campaign techniques. However, campaigners out there in Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia can get a lot of inspiration and specific takeaways from the most professional campaign in the world. This is the purpose of this blog.

State of the Union: Democratic Response

In my last post, I wrote about President Donald Trump and his State of the Union address. This time, I write about the Democratic response to it. In short, Democrats should not feel too comfortable in their position either.

The government shutdown was not good for Democrats. To begin with, I think it was wrong to provoke a government shutdown over immigration. It’s one of the issues where Donald Trump actually has appeal way beyond his base of strong supporters. And yes, probably a majority of Americans agree with Democrats that the Dreamers should not be deported, but instead being offered some sort of pathway to citizenship. But still, it’s not a government shutdown topic. How about provoking a government shutdown over the affordability of health care for the middle class?

Second, to provoke a government shutdown, and then retreat without any major concession just doesn’t look very good either.

During the State of the Union address, Democrats looked awfully political. Admittedly, Donald Trump probably has very little to do with black unemployment being at the lowest in history. But it nevertheless does happen under his watch. A little bit of applause coming from Democrats would not have hurt in my mind. After all, it is a big deal!

General rule: If your political opponent does something right, it’s the wisest strategy to applaud and hug him for it. Actually, the more you hug him, the less the achievement belongs to him. Celebrate his victory, and then rapidly move on to a topic that’s favorable to you!

The big news in D.C. now is of course the memo, which the Republicans in the House intelligence committee wrote and President Trump made public. I carefully listened to all the Sunday talk shows yesterday and I think the issue is just too complicated for most voters and that there is not enough of a smoking gun. As of today, I think it will galvanize the base, but I doubt it will have much impact for either side beyond that.

Let’s not forget that yes, President Trump is seen unfavorably by a majority of Americans. Looking back in history, few State of the Union speeches moved the needle in a substantial and sustainable way and I doubt what we have seen last week is an exception to the rule. At the same time, the electoral map for the mid-term elections is very unfavorable – in both houses - for the Democrats.

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