Monday, June 22, 2020

How Does Trump Campaign Manager Brad Parscale Still Have a Job?

In February of 2018, President Trump named Brad Parscale the campaign manager of his 2020 re-election effort.  Parscale, who had previously worked with the Trump Organization, had led the digital communications efforts during Trump's 2016 election victory.  Parscale's efforts were applauded as playing a key role in Trump's narrow electoral college victory that year.

While the media dutifully reported Parscale's appointment without editorial comment, political pros had to be scratching their heads.  While Parscale's father ran for Congress - as a Democrat - Parscale's resume shows no political activity whatsoever until his work with the Trump campaign.  And that role - as digital communications director - was narrowly focused.  Even though having a key role in the 2016couldn't manage the intricacies of obtaining an absentee voter ballot from Texas while working in New York.  As a result, he did not vote in the 2016 election.
campaign, Parscale apparently

So you've never ran a political campaign in your life and your first campaign manager job will running a President's re-election effort?

Parscale reminds me of the statistical consultants, the math whizzes, that every major league baseball team now employs to evaluate players and strategy.  The information they provide general managers and managers on the field has proven invaluable.  But the consultants' talents are narrow ones focused on a particular, albeit important, facet of the game.  They can advise that the batter's "launch angle" is off or a pitcher's "spin rate" is too low to be effective, but being on the field working with the players every day to improve their performance, well it is just not what an Ivy League math Ph.D. working for a baseball team does.

In short, Parscale's experience in digital communication has made him a specialist in the field, someone who has a narrow focus.  But the manager of a political campaign is a generalist, someone who, by the nature of the job, needs to see the big picture.  It is unusual when there is a specialist who can easily switch roles and become a generalist.  This is especially so in the world of politics where there is no substitute for campaign experience.

It appears Parscale knows he will not make it to Election Day as Trump's campaign manager and has since been using his position to enrich himself as much as he can in the meantime.  A Daily Mail headline says it all:  EXCLUSIVE: How Donald Trump's campaign manager Brad Parscale went from family bankruptcy to splashing out millions on mansions, condos and luxury cars through his companies that get a hefty cut of the president's $57M campaign contributions

Parscale's political inexperience was highlighted by Saturday's Trump rally in Tulsa.  Campaigns 101 teaches you on day one that you always LOWER expectations when it comes to turnout for events.  In politics, success is always measured by exceeding the expectations you mostly set.  Instead Parscale and the Trump Campaign bragged about 1 million requests for tickets, that there would be a full arena (seating 19,000) and a overflow crowd outside of maybe 50,000.    Turns out that there was no overflow crowd and only about 6,200 (the estimate of the Tulsa Fire Department) in the arena.  And those 1 million tickets ordered? Well Parscale, the communications digital "expert," may have been trolled by a bunch of fake ticket requests from teenage girls using something called TicTok.

The second thing you learn in Campaign 101 is that you should always make sure the venue is smaller than the crowd that shows up.  The media will always notice the empty seats and turn it in to a failure of the campaign.  It does not matter if the rally is in a stadium that seats 90,000 and "only" 70,000 people come to the rally.  Those 20,000 seats represent failure to the media.

That Parscale still has his job as of today is surprising.  Trump's poll numbers have gradually slid from toilet seat into the toilet.  Not only is Biden's lead double digits in many national polls, he leads in virtually every swing states and is competitive or leading in states like Iowa, Texas, Georgia, and Ohio - previously considered solidly in Trump's camp.

Still, Trump has one remaining ace card - $$$$$$.  Well, not anymore.  In April, Biden and the Democratic National Committee raised $60 million. Trump and the Republican National Committee during the same month brought in $61.7 million.  In May, Biden and the DNC raised $80.8 million while Trump and the RNC raked in $74 million.  While the Trump campaign has significantly more money on hand, the "bleed rate" of Trump's campaign spending may prove to problematic.  Much of that spending seems directed to an assortment of  companies that, not coincidentally, has "Trump" in their name.  Then, according to media reports, Parscale gets his cut as well.  In short, I am confident that much of the Trump/RNC money will go to line people's pockets rather than advance the political football.

If Parscale makes it to the end of Summer I would be shocked.

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