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Trump/Hillary strengths and weaknesses

Posted by John Reed on

I have never run a big organization but I have been in them and studied them at Harvard Business School. Regarding the presidential campaigns:

You need finance person, a recruiter-of-talent person (generally the CEO is the champ at this), a marketer/sales person, and a subject-matter person. In show biz, which politics is, you also need a star with a high Q rating (likability).

It has been said that politics is Hollywood for ugly people which explains how a person an unlikable as Hillary is leading in the polls. Trump is likable, albeit not to everyone, and he was an actual star in the Hollywood for good looking people.

Trump has relied too much on his star power and good-TV news making. Trump knows real estate finance, but not campaign finance. The Clintons are the all-time champs of campaign finance. Trump is probably a far better recruiter of great executives. The Clintons are good at gathering loyal political hacks, but I am not sure that loyal political hacks are good for anything but covering up your wrongdoing.

Trump is a great self-promoter. Hillary is not. Hilary is great at campaign commercials, but it is not clear that her spending a billion on them will have any effect. Trump is the all-time world champ at paying next to nothing per vote received. The Clintons probably rank at the other end of that spectrum—paying more per vote than any other successful politicians in history.

Then there is subject matter. In the subject matter of politics, not policy, the Clintons are lifers. They have been all politics all the time since college. Trump’s subject-matter expertise has been in high-rise urban real estate development. Trump is the Clintons of real estate development and the Clintons are the Trump of politics.

I used to tell my corporate bosses at Harcourt Brace they were “mercenaries.” They were all about the yield on a direct mail piece, the newsletter renewal rate, the cost per new subscriber, yadda yadda. “You guys have no soul,” I told them. “You’re all numbers. I love, eat, sleep, and drink real estate. So do our subscribers. You see them as nothing but statistics.” They freely admitted it was true.

Trump is the lover of real estate development. The Clintons are the lovers of politics. Trump has recently added some subject-matter guys in politics: Manafort (since departed), Conway, and Bannion.

So it may come down to Trump’s superior real world competence, star power, relative likability (millions would love to have a beer with Trump; nobody with Hillary), recruiting ability, shrewder marketing versus Hillary’s almost Soviet brute force in massive fund raising, massive advertising, massive army of political hacks, slavish black vote, disciplined unions soldiers, incensed Latinos.

I am aware that Trump’s “negatives” are higher than Hillary’s, but she and her campaign have no soul. They are mercenaries. The fact that people will vote for Hillary does not mean they want to have her at their backyard barbecue. Millions would love to have Trump there.

These are two powerful opponents, each in their own ways. It is reminiscent of Rocky IV where Trump is Rocky Balboa and Hillary is Ivan Drago.

Which would be the best president is a totally different issue. On policy substance, Trump’s trade war is a total deal killer. Hillary would probably do less damage to the nation than a Great Depression, because she lack any competence at getting things done. The country would worsen gradually under her. The only way I could support Trump would be if this whole trade war thing is just a big bluff to get other countries to lower tariffs.


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