Five months before the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton has secured the Democratic nomination. Despite many tactical advantages, Clinton is in a tight race with Donald Trump. Here are five suggestions about what Hillary can do to smooth her path to the presidency.
At the moment, Hillary is ahead of Trump. She's put away Bernie Sanders and has most Democrats behind her. She has the support of President Obama and other Democratic leaders. Obama is a popular President. The economy is growing. Democrats have a higher approval rating than do Republicans. But that's not enough against a candidate as sinister as Trump.
Here are 5 things that Clinton can do to strengthen her hand:
1. Make Elizabeth Warren her running mate. While there are other candidates for the Democratic nominee for vice-president, none would be as strong, politically, as Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. Warren has proven herself an effective advocate of progressive policies and a vehement critic of Donald Trump. Warren is smart, effective, and has a compelling personal story.
Warren brings several unique strengths to the Clinton campaign. First, she can be the foremost critic of all things Trump -- in effect, the bad cop -- while Hillary focuses on positive policy positions -- plays the good cop.
Second, Warren serves as the bridge to Bernie Sanders' partisans. (Many of the Democrats and Independents who supported Sanders began by begging Warren to run.) Warren is a bona fide progressive. Whereas some might doubt Clinton's willingness to rein in Wall Street, no one can doubt Warren's commitment to that cause or her deep understanding of economic inequality -- in effect, she would carry the Sanders' issues into the general election.
Third, Warren's positive image can help boost Clinton's favorability ratings. One of Hillary's biggest problems is that a lot of voters (particularly Independents and Republicans) don't like her. Warren can serve as a bridge to independents.
2. Win each day's media war. Since May 31st, when Donald Trump attacked the media, Clinton has won the bulk of positive media attention each day. She's accomplished this with a combination of personal appearances, speeches by surrogates (such as Obama and Warren), and matching Trump twitter for twitter.
One of the advantages Clinton has over Trump is that she has effective campaign surrogates (Obama, Biden, Warren, Bill Clinton, and others) and he does not. Hillary can amplify this advantage by making herself more accessible to the press.
3. Put boots on the ground now. For a variety of reasons, Donald Trump hasn't deployed a campaign infrastructure in swing states. In 2016, these are likely to include Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin. The campaign infrastructure will be crucial to placing ads and getting voters out in these states.
One of the reasons Trump doesn't have a campaign infrastructure is because he hasn't raised the money necessary. A recent Huffington Post article said that Trump only has 70 paid staff members compared to Clinton's 732.
The Atlantic magazine observed that Trump is basing his campaign on his business strategy: "Trump has made his name by being extremely available to the media, and by franchising essential operations out of house: He sells the rights to use his name to a developer, and then they do all the work. That's more or less what he's proposing to do with the campaign. He'll syndicate his name to the RNC, and the party will run his campaign." It's unlikely that this strategy will work in swing states.
4. Solidify the women's vote. In 2012 while Barack Obama won 55 percent of the female vote, Mitt Romney secured 58 percent of the vote of white women. In 2012, the overall gender gap was 10 percent.
In 2016, the gender gap is shifting in Clinton's favor. According to a recent Politifact report, Clinton has a 19 percent lead over Trump among all women. A recent Gallup Poll provided additional information on the gender gap. Non-White women favor Clinton by 56 points (65 percent for Clinton vs. 9 percent for Trump). White women favor Clinton by 2 points. (White college graduates favor Clinton by 8 points.)
With the support of Elizabeth Warren, Hillary can solidify the women's vote and lock down the election.