The situation analysis suggests that Hillary Clinton has effectively clinched her nomination for the 2016 presidential election. Although her only remaining rival might well score large delegate wins in the next two months, Clinton’s formidable lead over Bernie Sanders precludes any possibility of his overall victory. The Sanders campaign’s main argument following Super Tuesday 2 has been based on the fact that, as contests shift to the north and west, more than half the remaining electorate strongly prefers Sanders. This argument is both true and false: true because almost all the southern primaries have concluded and some remaining contests in north and west, such as Wisconsin and Washington, stand to benefit Sanders; false because there seems little possibility of Sanders winning remaining delegate-rich states such as New York, Pennsylvania and California by margins wide enough to affect the general outcome. I analyzed delegate prospects for the candidates across two scenarios (link), both of which were deliberately engineered to favor Sanders (Scenario 2 to a greater extent than Scenario 1) and I foresee no realistic possibility of his upsetting Clinton.
Using Porter’s Five Forces of Competitive Position Analysis to assess factors that have the potential to interrupt the campaign I examine Hillary’s potential competitors and assess possible reactions in order to prepare both externally and internally for her responses. Given Michael Bloomberg’s decision not run independently Clinton’s only remaining Democratic competitor is Bernie Sanders – who, according to this analysis, stands no real chance of winning the nomination. The Porter’s Five Forces Analysis following Super Tuesday 2 will be as follows:
Trump himself represents a truly significant threat. He has a compelling message and enjoys great voter enthusiasm.
With attention to the analysis of Hillary’s campaign based on all the players in the field we can identify her main strengths and weaknesses as well as possible opportunities and threats that may confront the campaign.
To make a rational recommendation, Hillary Clinton’s campaign should be scored based on how she can respond efficiently to the other rivals (namely Bernie Sanders.) This score puts at the campaign’s disposal a grand strategic map which can be used to chart offensive or defensive maneuvers against Sanders’ campaign. For these purposes I first break down the most important external factors which could have an effect on her campaign based on Porters’ Five Forces and SWOT analysis. In some cases, each indicator breaks down into a number of representative elements. For example, demography as an indicator consists of white Americans and others, including Latinos and African Americans. I then assess each of them. Factors of great importance will be weighed more heavily than less important ones. Finally, all factors will be given a score on a scale of 1-5: 1 meaning of little favorable effect for the campaign, and 5 meaning great favorable effect. Afterwards I will multiply weights and scores and then add them up to produce a final score. This is the number between 1 and 5. If the number is more than 2.5 (average), it signifies that Hillary’s campaign should martial an offensive strategy with an aggressive approach to broaden her base and her competitors (here, in light of Sanders’ positive campaigning, I’d recommend refraining from negative attacks; the campaign should instead emphasize weaknesses vis-à-vis voter priorities, such as his positions on gun control and electability doubts.) If the final score comes to less than 2.5, it signifies that the campaign should focus its efforts on a defensive strategy instead.
Based on the analysis of Porters’ Five Factors and SWOT, the campaign external factor matrix is as below:
In accordance with the situation analysis of Hillary’s campaign, the goal of her campaign through the end of April should be focused on securing the nomination (at this point a very likely proposition) as well as trying to strengthen her ties with the most passionate part of the Democratic party so that she has a grassroots force at her disposal in the general election. To do so Hillary should:
- Beat Bernie Sanders in New York, Maryland, and Pennsylvania
- Strengthen her ties with minorities, including Latinos and African Americans, to secure her victory in California
- Reframe her message to broaden her base and make tangible for them the possible dangers of a Republican victory in the general election (using themes of hope and wisdom, fear and need)
- Restructure her targeting strategy by involving more voters in the messaging process
- Secure at least 350 more pledge delegates by the end of the Pennsylvania primary.
According to the most optimistic scenario for Bernie Sanders (assessed here) the map of the next primaries and caucuses will not favor Hillary Clinton for the period extending from the March 22 Arizona contest until at least the New York primary on April 19. During this approximately one-month period, Sanders may decrease Hillary’s lead by beating Hillary in Washington and Wisconsin (Wisconsin could be a real battleground). Those victories could in turn impart momentum to Sanders’ campaign. The Sanders campaign could capitalize further on these victories by claiming that they indicated his prospects were strongest in the second half of the primary process all along. This argument is not completely accurate, however, as the New York, Pennsylvania, and California contests should all break in Hillary’s favor. Due to the potential negative risks foreseen by the situation analysis, the recommendation will be to focus on the following: 1.) The two states holding contests before New York’s, Washington and Wisconsin; 2.) the New York primary itself; and 3.) two primaries after New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland. Clinton will almost certainly formally cross the nomination threshold after this sequence, rendering the California contest of little consequence.
Per the situation analysis of negative risks to Hillary’s campaign, one of her main advantages is that she is perceived as someone who can unite the party and the country, even if some left-leaning sections of the Democratic Party and extreme-right parts of the Republican Party dislike or even hate her. For Hillary there can be no reconciliation with the most vociferous and extreme part of the Republican base. However, she needs the support of the Democratic left flank and even some Republican centrists for the general election.
According the analysis of most of the polls and based on the situation analysis that I have framed above, Bernie Sanders has an advantage among the youngest and most liberal Democratic voters. On the other hand, Hillary’s position is strong among moderate and conservative Democrats, minorities, and Democrats of 45 years of age or more.
Hillary will not be able to persuade young and liberal Democrats. They love Bernie’s message and his plan to fight Wall Street; tuition-free public education is furthermore very appealing to them. Even if Hillary claims that she is going to advocate much of Bernie’s platform, nobody among those electoral strata would believe her and their loyalty will remain with Bernie Sanders. Any attempts to make inroads into those groups will be fruitless, and so they should be set aside.
One of the main problems of Hillary’s campaign is her messaging strategy. She still looks like a candidate of the past toting the weighty Clinton name. Campaigning doesn’t work this way. Campaigns are about the future, not the past, and should focus on voters rather the candidate. To overcome these two main problems Hillary should frame her message on themes of hope and wisdom to assure her base among moderates and minorities that she is the candidate who will successfully champion their interests in the general election. She also needs to tell her base that she is wise enough to listen to their problems and strong enough to fight for them. Moreover, if they want to keep their voice in the White House, Hillary is their champion. However, she can’t do so all by herself – she cannot fight for them alone. She needs the participation of the voters themselves. Hillary should repeat this slogan that she needs them, as it’s now more vital than ever. This unprecedented level of urgency might motivate her base more than ever before.
Message: Hope and Wisdom, Need and Fear
As I’ve frequently mentioned in this post, there is a significant difference between liberal and moderate Democrats when it comes to their support for Hillary. According to a GW student poll (conducted in November 2015), analysis of data based on voter ideology finds a significant ideology gap between Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders. According to the charts below, when Democratic voters are sorted by ideological preference the percentage of votes for Hillary is highest among conservatives and lowest among liberals. Nevertheless, Hillary Clinton would beat Bernie Sanders among the ranks of very conservative, conservative, moderate, and somewhat liberal voters.
The good news for Hillary Clinton is that those describing themselves as “very liberal” comprise only 20% of the Democratic Party primary / caucus votes. Moreover, among the most liberal states in the United States (Gallup report),
Some says that Hillary should focus more on specific issues of concern to Democrats. I’m going to challenge this narrative by saying that these issues should be heeded in very specific and limited ways for specific and limited parts of the electorate, but not in a general way. She should of course address the economy, but be careful not to cede ground to Sanders. She must also make it clear to her base that as president, she would improve the economic fortunes of African-Americans.
For purposes of structuring her campaign message strategy Hillary should establish a messaging framework based on four elements, each of which justifies voter support and indicates how voters should be courted by the campaign. These elements consist of hope, wisdom, need, and fear:
Hope is a message for the part of Hillary’s base who are possessed of more moderate views than left-liberals and minorities (still the majority of the Democratic party.) This message emphasizes the promise of a better future which only Clinton as a seasoned, electable pragmatist can deliver.
Wisdom and Unity
Wisdom is a message for independents who cast their votes in the Democratic primary, the majority of whom voted for Sanders in Iowa and New Hampshire. The wisdom message should be structured in such a way that Hillary’s campaign can play up the difference between desirability and realism, ensuring the electorate that only Clinton has the know-how to effect the change that independents desire. No president can address every single issue dear to the base, and none can pursue his or her plans without some level of compromise. Consider: who will suffer the most in DC’s political gridlock? The answer is of course reformers, and thus the Democratic base should trust a change-maker. The message of wisdom will be strengthened with a theme of unity, a quality desperately needed in contemporary America. Hillary’s campaigning should use both terms to approach independents.
Need and Fear
Need and Fear resonate with younger Democrats and liberals who are still loyal to Bernie Sanders. Again, Hillary cannot reach them by using the same terminology that Bernie Sanders uses. Instead, she should remind them that, at the end of the day, Democrats should elect the nominee with the highest possibility of electability. One consideration that makes this imperative is the defense of the eight years of Obama’s legacy. Moreover, the next president will probably be responsible for nominating a number of Supreme Court judges. Everyone sees how angry Republican partisans want to hold the next nominee hostage. A Hillary presidency would thus secure the Supreme Court from conservative meddling, heading off potentially devastating legal challenges to campaign finance reform and the Affordable Health Care Act.
Message: Tactics and Slogans – I Have a Dream
Hillary’s campaign suffers a relative disadvantage when it comes to voter enthusiasm. To overcome this problem, Hillary should engage her supporters not just to vote, but to take part in her campaign’s process of identifying issues and crafting messages around them. She should ask supporters to help frame her speech, for example giving feedback on key words and phrases. This might involve, for example, setting up a kind of common speech editing platform online, giving voters direct input into battleground stump speeches. I recommend some variation on the “I Have a Dream” vision, because Hillary is a candidate who cares about women, minorities, and marginalized groups and shares a common goal with Dr. Martin Luther King and many progressive Americans. It would begin with the canonical words “I have a dream,” with subsequent content to be filled out by voters themselves.
Message: Campaign Finance Reform and Supreme Court Justice Selection
One of the main disadvantages of Hillary Clinton’s position is the tenacity of the Sanders offensive regarding campaign finance form. Sanders rightfully claims that Hillary is buttressed by a super PAC and contributions from wealthy Americans. Hillary’s response thus far has not been persuasive to voters. Although she’s stated that none of her contributors enjoy illegal benefits for their support, this answer is finally more passive than active. Instead of such a reactionary response, she should personalize this argument by saying that Super PACs are the results of the Citizen United case which targeted Hillary during her 2008 bid. If anyone deserves credit for consistently opposing the decision, it is Hillary.
Another pressing issue facing the country is the selection of a Supreme Court replacement for the recently deceased justice Antonin Scalia. Republicans argue that for the past 80 years a lame duck president has not nominated a Supreme Court justice during an election year; the counterargument is that a United States with an African-American president and a serious woman contender has entered a substantively new political era.
National media are greatly interested in following presidential candidates, constantly renewing narratives in the election cycle. Local news agencies give coverage to primaries and caucuses. Advertising to target audiences in specific localities is very important for Hillary’s ground game. The entire messaging strategy should be framed based on the “hope and wisdom, need and fear” themes which I’ve categorized in part two of this post.
Another media tool Hillary should use is her “together speech” tactic, in which Hillary’s stump speeches will be structured in terms of key words and terminology by those who are going to vote for her by way of a unique and unprecedented brainstorming platform. This project might be independently initiated by a supporter on a website distinct from the campaign’s. After announcing the project, Hillary’s campaign will advertise for it. This will further serve to showcase the young, creative capacities of the campaign, contesting ground held by Sanders.
Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms are depended upon by all candidates. Advertising for her specifically across these media, especially at times of large-volume events such as debates, is imperative.
Media: Ad Storyboard – Grandma
The main purpose of this ad is to communicate to the audience that Hillary Clinton is aware of the fact that millennials prefer Sanders to her. She will emphasize that whatever their personal preferences are, as president she will fight for their future: whether Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, pro-Hillary or not, she will be a caring grandmother figure for all Americans, working tirelessly for the sake of their future.
- Media anchor to Hillary: What do you think of the fact that young people strongly prefer Senator Sanders to you yourself?
- Hillary: I care deeply, but no matter who they pick to be their nominee in either party, they should think of me as their grandma
- Hillary: I will fight for them
- Hillary: I will advocate for them
- Hillary: and I will serve my term as the President of the United States to ensure that their lives will be better than mine was
- I am Hillary Clinton, and I approve this message
Visuals for these ads should be taken from Clinton campaign events, Sanders campaign events, Obama’s 2008 campaign programming, Tea Party rallies in 2009, Occupy Wall Street Movement actions in 2011, and the 2015 Black Lives Matter movement in 2015, all featuring young Americans of various demographic groups (Black, Latino, Asian-American, Male and Female)
Media: Interview with Megan Kelly
The main purpose of this interview is to emphasize Clinton’s intention to be a bipartisan head of state, using her experience to unite a divided country in a way no other candidate is capable of. The main justification for an interview with Megan Kelly is that she is among the most famous female anchors in conservative media and has suffered sexist taunting at the hands of Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton should represent herself as someone who disagrees with Kelly on many issues but nonetheless affirms along with her the importance of America’s future. Hillary should take pains not to mention exchanges between Trump and Kelly.
Megan Kelly will ask some tough questions about Clinton’s emails, Benghazi, and her work as Secretary of State more generally. In this interview Hillary should characterize herself not just as a presidential candidate, but as the presumptive President – the Madam President who gave an interview to a famous female anchor with whom she disagrees substantially in order to ward off the greater evil of a divided country and Trump presidency.
The main purpose of these post is to characterize Hillary as presidential, someone from the Democratic Party with the power to unite the country.
Facebook Post: “I want to be the President of the United States of America, not the Divided States of the America.” This post could be published in the middle of her interview with Megan Kelly on Fox News. She should use this line orally in the interview, and it should be immediately reinforced online.
The main purpose of these tweets is to characterize Hillary as someone who cares about all Americans, especially millennials. She should position herself as a caring grandmother, insisting that she has their best interests at heart regardless of their voting decision.
Tweet: Your grandma is waiting for you! Join me and together we’ll work to build a better future.
This tweet should feature images of millennials of different background