After Trump secured the Republican nomination for the Presidency, several prominent Democrats told me privately that they would not make the same mistakes the Republicans made. They would take Donald Trump seriously in ways the GOP had not.
Hillary Clinton and her outside groups were going to spend $100 million through August to define Trump and set the tone of the race. They were going to raise issues the GOP never raised and trot out opposition research the public knew nothing about.
We are at September 22nd. The Clinton machine has spent its money on ads. The race is even.
What is striking about this is that the Democrats have actually not trotted out new attacks on Trump. They have not raised issues the GOP failed to raise. They might have repackaged them slightly, but mostly they are old attacks.
This raises a question: Is there nothing more on Trump or will the Democrats launch an “October surprise”?
I suspect they really were hoping that Trump’s taxes would come out and they even now are trying to get them out. That and the charity story have the potential to throw off Donald Trump’s messaging. But those are not really new stories.
What I kept hearing even in the run up to the convention is that the Democrats had tracked down the mysterious woman who alleged had an abortion after a relationship with Trump. They were going to use that as a way to suppress evangelicals from turning out for Trump. But that story has fallen flat. Like so many other stories that circulate and crash, it was more likely bluster and rumor in the lead up to the conventions.
One thing seems to be sure. The Democrats have actually fallen for the same trap the GOP fell for. They presumed the media would do the dirty work for them and, consequently, have failed to define Donald Trump in the run up to the first debate.
The media gave Donald Trump billions of dollars of free advertising in the Republican primaries and it was largely uncritical of him until after Indiana. Now, however, the media has so overplayed its hand trying to stop Trump that their biases are clear and Americans do not trust the media.
Donald Trump has been able to take down his advertisements because he does not need them. Media coverage of him is so saturated and the media bias so apparent, right now all he has to do is turn out his base. There is no guarantee that a man like Trump, with as much media exposure as he is getting, really needs the ground game that Clinton needs. Trump has a more motivated base.
The final month of the campaign is either going to be particularly nasty or the Democrats might spend the month loading up their houses, putting them on the market, and moving to exile in Canada.