Tag Archives: Republican Party

Trump Never Had A Chance

Guest Post by Chris Henderson

Seemingly every day, someone tells me that they’re worried Donald Trump will win the election. Aside from the natural anxiety that comes with a  potentially catastrophic (yet still remote) possibility, I really don’t believe Trump winning is even remotely realistic. Here’s why:

1. Trump has no ground game.

Every modern election is won on ground game. Candidates can’t rely on speeches and cable news appearances. They need an army of people and tools to reach out to millions of voters throughout the election, collect data and guide campaign decisions. This matters. It defines your strategy and it helps you convert voters on the margins – the ones that you need to help you win swing states.

Building this infrastructure is essentially the modern-day purpose of the US primary nomination system. Parties believe that the successful nominee will emerge with (and because of) a sophisticated and mature ground game infrastructure to head into the general election. Trump didn’t do this. He coasted on a unique mix of populism and the anger of 13 million voters to help him rise to the top of a diverse and crowded GOP nomination field. He went into the General with no ground game, he has failed to build one since. In fact, he’s been piggybacking on the (comparatively weak) Republican infrastructure to get him through. That was a bad strategy in the first place and now after the GTBTP (Grab Them By The *cat emoji*) debacle, that resource appears to be out of his reach.

2. This is not a professional campaign operation.

Professionalized politics starts at the very top – with the candidate. A candidate sets the tone, drives the policy and starts the strategy. They attract and retain talented staff to make it all real and turn it into votes. The campaign staff create diverse and smart opportunities for the candidate to go out and represent and augment that strategy and policy. While a candidate is in charge of the campaign, a professional staff will set limits. Professional campaigns do not allow candidates to rant on Twitter at 3am. They don’t allow a candidate to skip debate prep. They don’t film half-apologies at midnight. They don’t allow a candidate to spend a week fixated on a single non-campaign issue. They don’t allow the rest of the party to abandon its Presidential candidate. They don’t outright insult and alienate people like Mitt Romney and John McCain. Trump’s campaign is completely bereft of all of these qualities.

3. He’s checkmated himself with his own rhetoric and bluster.

Donald Trump has built a campaign on a style that attracts a large number of voters who, by and large, are disenfranchised with the direction of America and the type of people who have been traditionally tasked with leading it. That’s fair enough. And it was a smart strategy to win the GOP primary, especially with Obama in office. Applying that strategy to the General election has brought him within close to striking distance of a chance at winning.

Here’s his biggest problem. He needs more than this relatively reliable cohort to win. He needs to capture the votes of more moderate, independent voters who are mailable or undecided. With the stark nature of the offence in his GTBTP video, he needs to work harder to access those particular voters. But what he needs to do to access those voters threatens to alienate his original base of voters, which he also needs in order to win. They don’t want to vote for a guy that apologizes for “locker room talk.” That puts Trump in an impossible position that a talented, experienced candidate and team might be able to navigate out of – but, as discussed, Trump doesn’t have that.

4. He’s only been ahead for a fleeting moment in this election.

Take a quick look at polling aggregators. Only once – after the GOP Convention – has he ever been polling better than Hillary Clinton. And that peak was followed with his steepest decline of the last year. His polling has been over the place, but it hasn’t crossed Hillary Clinton’s horizon. And, at this point, it seems extremely unlikely that it will. Only the most charismatic, skilled politician could make up that structural polling deficit. He doesn’t have either.

These are all critical problems. Each of them would need to be rectified in order for him to be victorious in this election. No single debate performance, Clinton scandal, rally speech or publicity stunt can save him from these serious systemic problems.

Breathe easy – Hillary Clinton will be the next President of the United States.


Chris Henderson has been working on campaigns since he was 11 years old. He once successfully convinced Dave Cournoyer to shave his beard. Today, he is a Strategist at Calder Bateman Communications.

Margaret Chase Smith served as the United States Senator for Maine from 1949 to 1973.

Republican Senator’s speech against McCarthyism could have been about Trump

In the eleven years since I started publishing this blog, I have almost entirely focused on Alberta politics. But while my writing focuses on provincial politics here at home, like many Canadians I pay close attention to what is happening south of the border.

It is an understatement to say that the current state of American politics is very concerning to most outside observers. The deep partisan divide in US politics and the rise of an egotistical demagogue like Donald Trump is frightening. His campaign has actively appealed to racist and xenophobic elements of that country and as the Republican presidential primary and public opinion polls show, there is a receptive audience to his message.

The rise of this new brand of fascist authoritarianism in American politics reminded me of a speech delivered by a United States Senator sixty-six years ago. On June 1, 1950, Republican Senator Margaret Chase Smith stood in the Senate chamber and delivered her Declaration of Conscience speech against McCarthyism. This excerpt from her speech feels just as relevant today as it did in 1950:

“…I don’t want to see the Republican Party ride to political victory on the Four Horsemen of Calumny — Fear, Ignorance, Bigotry, and Smear.

I doubt if the Republican Party could — simply because I don’t believe the American people will uphold any political party that puts political exploitation above national interest. Surely we Republicans aren’t that desperate for victory.

I don’t want to see the Republican Party win that way. While it might be a fleeting victory for the Republican Party, it would be a more lasting defeat for the American people. Surely it would ultimately be suicide for the Republican Party and the two-party system that has protected our American liberties from the dictatorship of a one party system.”

I hope for the sake of our neighbours to the south that Ms. Chase Smith’s message is as true in 2016 as it was in 1950.

Interim PC Party leader Ric McIver and 7 of his party's MLAs at their post-election leader's dinner.

PC Party financials reveal $1.5 million debt from 2015 election

Reports of the death of the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta might only be slightly exaggerated. Financial disclosure reports submitted to Elections Alberta show the former governing party amassed a $1.5 million debt during the May 2015 election.

After reportedly nearly missing the deadline to submit its financial disclosures from the recent provincial election, the PCs posted the disclosure on its own website, which provides some detail into the overwhelming wealth of the former governing party during its failed attempt at re-election in May 2015. (The full report is now posted on the Elections Alberta website).

The disclosure report provides information about a $2,000,000 loan secured by the PC Party from the Canadian Western Bank with an outstanding balance of $1,544,866 as of July 5, 2015. Security on the loan includes a personal guarantee of $1,455,000 from a former director, who is unnamed in the document.

The report shows the PCs raised $2,802,500 in donations greater than $250 and $90,625 lower than $250 during the April 7 to July 15, 2015 campaign period. The PCs spent $4,303,969 and ran a deficit of $930,236 during the election campaign.

In response to its financial troubles, the party received significant financial transfers from some of its wealthier constituency associations, including $30,000 from Edmonton-Whitemud, $25,000 from Calgary-Elbow, $20,000 from each Calgary-Varsity and St. Albert, and $15,000 from Whitecourt-Ste. Anne.

Major donors listed on the PC Party’s financial disclosure include Richard Haskayne ($30,000), Ronald Joyce ($30,000), Ken King ($30,000), Calfrac Well Services Ltd ($30,000), MacLab Hotels & Resorts Ltd ($30,000), Matco Investments ($30,000), Christopher Potter ($30,000), Primrose Livestock Ltd ($30,000), Susan Rose Riddell ($30,000), Clayton Riddell ($30,000), Ronald P Mathison Private Banking Ltd ($30,000), Cathy Roozen ($30,000), Mike Rose ($30,000), Shane Homes Ltd ($30,000), Walton International Group Inc ($30,000), TIW Western ($25,000), CIBC ($23,750), Scotiabank ($23,750), BMO Nesbitt Burns Inc ($20,000), Matthew Brister ($20,000), Brian Michael Brix ($20,000), Grandview Cattle Feeders Ltd ($20,000), Kolf Farms Ltd ($20,000), Kelly Koss ($20,000), Mancal Corporation ($20,000), Kyle Ross ($20,000), Nancy Southern ($20,000), and Sunset Feeders Ltd ($20,000).

During its 44 years in government the PCs were able to depend on large corporate donors to help pay off campaign bills and debts, but the party has struggled after corporate donations to political parties were banned by the first law passed by the Alberta NDP Government in June 2015. Interim leader Ric McIver initially denounced the ban, but later stood with the entire nine member PC caucus in voting in favour of the bill.

The PCs will hold their annual general meeting in spring 2016 and have launched a 500-Day Plan to prepare the party for the 2019 provincial election. The PCs are expected to choose a permanent leader in early 2016.

New Unite the Right By Moving Further to the Right Group

According to a report from the Calgary Herald, a new group calling themselves “ The Alberta Prosperity Fund” has launched the latest bid to unite the two main conservative parties in Alberta. The private group is reported to have looked far to the political right for inspiration by inviting American anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist as guest speaker to a closed-door session in Calgary this week. Mr. Norquist is known for his role in pushing the Republican Party further to the political right, contributing to the deep political division in America.

The group is headed by Barry McNamar, a former vice-president of the right-wing Fraser Institute and director of the Calgary School of Public Policy. It is unclear who is providing financial support for the Fund.

Responding to the group’s formation, Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean told the Herald that “[w]e have had our lawyer send them a letter requesting that they stop telling people they have our endorsement or support.