Before the first Presidential Debate, Donald Trump was poised to make his biggest sale to date and move significantly closer to 'closing the deal' in his prime time showcase vs Hillary Clinton.
Instead, he stuck to what got him to this point and his supporters love (an off the cuff and unrehearsed message) and was solidly beaten by Clinton, who had a game plan to irritate Trump, was prepared and delivered her points effectively. He also allowed her to get under his skin.
Despite rarely giving much substance on policy, frequently divisive/insulting and playing by his own rules, he clearly had the momentum going into the September 26th debate. His poll numbers were also rising; all he needed to do was cross the ‘expectation’ finish line.
I would hope his advisors told him to stay calm, cool and collected (look Presidential), along with not getting sidetracked by her baiting. A smart salesperson listens, learns and chooses what to incorporate into the sales kit, particularly when advice comes from political veterans.
And where was that boldness from the campaign? No 'Crooked Hillary' or sufficient mention by him of her main weaknesses (i.e. emails, Benghazi). He either forgot to attack during the 90 minutes or was afraid to; either one inexcusable for someone made famous by ‘The Art of the Deal’, his best-selling book.
Near the end of the debate, I wondered if he even watched or studied Hillary at previous debates. Most good salespeople know their competition inside and out.
I consider Trump to be one of the best 'Salesmen' I've ever seen. He knows his crowd, speaks their language and is a master of persuasion. Whether one agrees with his tactics/agenda or not, his results (GOP nomination) and millions of enthusiastic supporters are stunning; especially for a man with almost no political experience.
The red carpet to The White House has been rolled out for him for quite some time, as a significant portion of our country clearly wants a change, although Trump can’t seem to get out of his own way. Clinton has been cautious (counting on Trump being Trump) and seems to be ‘playing not to lose’, which can be a dangerous game. He’s playing right into her hands though.
If Trump had walked confidently down the aisle during his 'moment of truth' debate, things may have turned out differently. Yes, it was his first time on that grand stage (85 million watching), but the expectation bar was very low for him, so it shouldn't have been that difficult to at least meet expectations, particularly for a man who loves the media lights and is a master of self-promotion.
He stumbled with frustration, sighs and interruptions throughout the evening and lost the night, with the exception of the beginning portion on trade, where he appeared confident. For those who didn't consider him fit or qualified for the Presidency, he needed a more convincing display.
When Trump made this inept statement to Clinton..."No wonder you’ve been fighting ISIS your entire adult life", it was clear to me that his night would be going downhill. First impressions are difficult to change and I doubt many undecided voters think better of him after his performance.
Often, these type of glaring fumbles come back to bite you in life. For him, it could be the sting of losing to a woman…who like him, is a flawed candidate and has major likability/trust issues, but has given him more than one chance to beat her.
On this second debate weekend, more fuel is being poured on the Trump fire; this time with a story about Trump making lewd audio comments about women in 2005. Most of us have things we regret, but to speak of women in that awful way is indefensible. He did offer an apology, but quickly went back on the offense against the transgressions of former President Bill Clinton.
His house is in disarray.
After severe condemnation from most, including many top Republicans, I can’t see how he can climb out of his pile of quicksand. It’s important to keep in mind that he was on his way to losing this election before this latest controversy and his standing among women suffered tremendously the week after the debate. This passage from an article on Trump’s future impact on the GOP sums it up well.
"Nor should this October surprise be looked back upon as the episode that triggered a fatal decrease in Trump’s support among women voters. Here again, Trump’s fate was likely already sealed, thanks to an inept first debate performance followed by a six-day stretch in which the nominee ceaselessly ridiculed and shamed a former Miss Universe contestant, Alicia Machado, for no apparent reason other than to settle a personal grudge. A national Quinnipiac poll released on the day of that first debate, September 26, showed Trump down just five points among women. On October 7, having conducted a new national survey in the wake of those events, Quinnipiac released its findings: Trump was down 20 points among women. (This 15-point drop among female voters, in a period of less than two weeks, is also reflected in battleground state polling.)
Trump's Legacy Will Haunt GOP Beyond 2016
Trump's Legacy Will Haunt GOP Beyond 2016
In addition, the Electoral College doesn’t favor a Republican, his poll numbers are further behind Clinton after the debate and he will be hearing about his crude comments for the next 30 days. All along, I’ve given him a 10% chance to win, but now would put him at 5%.
He’s still on the court though, which means he still has a chance. Much can happen in a month, especially with a man who has nothing to lose. There may be pressure on him to leave the race, but as of now, he remains defiant. I suspect she won’t make any more ‘basket of deplorables’ type mistakes, but to overcome his self-induced obstacles, he needs to show a new brand of Trump.
The main job of an effective salesperson is to close the sale, in this case winning the election. Often that takes adapting or changing one's style in order to progress or enhance the sale. Trump has not shown the willingness or discipline to reach beyond his comfort zone of supporters, thus making it tough to attract new voters. Great salespeople do what it takes and rarely miss a golden sales opportunity, especially when the light is shining brightly and the pressure is on.
Trump has closed deals in the Bright Lights and Big City of Manhattan and around the world, yet was ill-prepared for the biggest stage and close of his 70 years. One of his problems is being one dimensional, most likely thinking his base of supporters was good enough to send him to Pennsylvania Avenue.
In our diverse country, appealing to a variety of groups is invaluable for a political victory. Bush closed the deal in 2000 by speaking Spanish and promoting compassionate conservatism, yet barely won the race. Without dimensions outside of his base, Bush didn't stand a chance.
Trump also wrote 'The Art of the Comeback'. For that to happen, a different and improved Trump has to emerge at the remaining debates and on the campaign trail.
The American public was ripe to be sold during this General Election. Trump’s reality now is that his one man show is about to be cancelled.
Happy Gswede Sunday!