There is a saying, “no risk, no reward.” No one has applied this paradox to his life more than President Donald Trump, mainly as a businessman as he built his real estate empire, but also five years ago when he became a candidate in the 2016 presidential election. Defying all of the odds, his own political party establishment, and countless others around the world, Donald Trump won the highest office in our land. He upended the entire American political system singlehandedly by taking risks that no established politician would remotely consider. Now, once again, he has waved off tradition and political correctness, to potentially pull off the upset of the political century.
Much of the 2020 election has seen the President trailing in the polls, whether nationally or in key battleground states. Regardless of the accuracy of these polls, and the majority of them are not correct, just like in 2016 Donald Trump is viewed as the proverbial outsider and underdog. But this time we all have the advantage of hindsight. The Democrats are keenly aware of the problems that plagued their candidate in 2016 that led to her surprising and shocking loss. The Biden campaign is acutely mindful of the many ways that Donald Trump can win this election, and they are worried about the end result. The majority of the mainstream media will deliberately go out of its way to delay any announcement about final results, particularly if the outcome is favorable to President Trump. The 2016 election was so astonishing because political insiders failed to accurately gauge the sentiment and impact of non-political outsiders — the American voters.
This is where President Trump’s tactical gambit has paid off. During the 2020 pundits and analysts across the political spectrum have questioned his approach and tactics to doing what worked for him in the 2016 race. Many critics and the media-at-large argued his rallies were unnecessary, and the messages he delivered at them ineffective. They lost their luster and were a waste of time. Nobody was really attending or watching them. The president’s belief that he could replicate the enthusiasm of his voters again was largely dismissed. “Lightening will not strike twice,” is one of the Democrat’s favorite and most critical talking points on this matter.
However, this is exactly what President Trump has been able to do. By focusing on those key elements that he successfully used in 2016, and which catapulted him to the presidency, he is yet again stunning Democrats. Each rally he has held has only increased the intensity of his support and the President knows this better than anyone. His ability to reach voters, directly and authentically, is the precise and calculated action he knew would give him the electoral advantage. In the last four days the President has held 17 rallies in nine states. Before that he has completed dozens more while traversing across the country. Compare this number to Joe Biden who has done seven rallies in five states. On October 30th, Mr. Biden did three rallies which marked the first time since his nomination in August that did multiple events in different states in one day. The comparison of the two approaches is vastly differently and consequential. Even many voters who do not necessarily support President Trump acknowledge his highly-energetic effort and passion for wanting the job. He has shown voters more convincingly than Mr. Biden why he wants to lead our country over the next four years. The fact that all major polls have narrowed the gap between Donald Trump and Joe Biden is a reflection of the formidable jolt that Donald Trump knew would result from these tactics.
While Mr. Biden and his team have ridiculed President Trump’s campaign style and playbook, the Democrats have failed to consider the collective effect and impact it has all had on their own candidate in this election. Mr. Biden’s side has grossly misjudged Donald Trump as a candidate and his ability to connect with voters across a wide spectrum of demographics. More problematic for Joe Biden is his failure to counter the influence of President Trump’s unorthodox campaign techniques with voters early on, even after witnessing it unfold with Hillary Clinton’s defeat. President Trump’s campaign maneuvers are not secret or hidden behind layers of advisors. He is blunt and unabashed. His direct, unfiltered communication with voters on specific policy issues resonates. His boundless energy at rallies and other events has electrified his supporters to a level that has largely erased any early voting gains anticipated by Democrats in this election.
Before the polls close on Election Day the political spin by both campaigns of who won the 2020 presidential content will already be in full swing. If the intensity created by President Trump with his supporters remains in full force and effect, those voters will descend upon the polls across the country in record numbers and hand him a resounding victory. The historic voter turnout will cement this presidential election unlike any other in our history. The lessons learned for Mr. Biden and the Democrats about President Trump and his methods will be many, but the most glaring one will haunt them for at least another four years. Never underestimate what motivates your political opponent or the American voter.
Rick Gates is the former deputy campaign manager for Donald Trump, and is the author of “Wicked Game: An Insider’s Story on How Trump Won, Mueller Failed, and America Lost.”