US politics

If you don’t listen to the voters, someone else will: the real lesson of Trump

trump

By Lord Ashcroft

You’d think the world had come to an end. Anguished commentators have reacted to the US election as though it heralds the end of liberal democracy as we know it. The result was undeniably dramatic and will have consequences we can’t foresee. But I think the explanation for it is rather more prosaic: like every electorate everywhere in the world, American voters had a choice of imperfect outcomes, and they took a deep breath and made it. As is always the case, some are horrified by the voters’ decision – but their grief has carried them away, and is preventing them from learning the right lesson from Donald Trump’s victory.

In just over a decade of research, I have made something of a study of how losing political movements react to defeat. Though circumstances differ, most have one thing in common: they claim, at least inwardly, a moral victory (more…)

The unexpected way Donald Trump is like Barack Obama

By Lord Ashcroft

 

This article was first published at TIME.com

Last week I argued that Donald Trump was like Brexit in three ways: both harnessed a desire for real change; voters balanced the prospect of that change against an unquantifiable risk; and many in politics in the media failed to understand that reasonable people might vote for something the establishment thought unthinkable.

Now we can add two more. The fourth is the dawning realisation, as the results pile up during the night, that something unexpected is happening and that the polls and pundits have once again been confounded (more…)

How would Trump and Clinton supporters react to defeat tomorrow?

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By Lord Ashcroft

More than half of Republicans will blame the media if Donald Trump loses the presidential election tomorrow, according to my poll of American voters.

Asked what would be the most likely explanation if the result went against them, 54% of Republicans chose “the media has worked overtime to undermine the candidate you supported”. A further 25% said they would blame “a systematic effort by the authorities to rig the outcome” (more…)

Donald Trump is like Brexit in three key ways

By Lord Ashcroft

This piece was first published at TIME.com

“BEYOND BREXIT!” “Brexit plus!” “Brexit times ten!” Throughout his presidential run Donald Trump has claimed the mantle of the campaign that mobilised popular discontent to defy the odds and take the UK out of the European Union in June’s referendum.

And with some justification. For the last seven weeks my polling team has conducted focus groups around the U.S. for my Ashcroft In America project, and the first things to strike us were the echoes from the polling on the British referendum that occupied the first half of our year. There are three essential parallels.

First, the Trump and Brexit movements have both harnessed a desire for change that goes beyond dry questions of policy (more…)

‘Do we want him smacking the Queen of England’s butt?’ My final pre-election focus groups in Ohio

Cincinnati Ohio Skyline

By Lord Ashcroft

The final edition of the Ashcroft In America podcast is here

Presidential candidates live in terror of the October Surprise – the out-of-the-blue event that can turn the race upside down. Last Friday it seemed that one had arrived when the FBI Director, James Comey, wrote to Congress disclosing that the Bureau had learned about further emails that “appear to be pertinent” to their earlier investigation of Hillary Clinton. The announcement caused a huge row in Washington, with Democrats complaining that Comey had politicised the investigation and Trump seizing on the news as further evidence of Hillary’s crookedness. What effect would this momentous development have on undecided voters in the final week of the campaign?

A pretty negligible one, to judge by our focus groups in Cincinnati (more…)

Ashcroft In America podcast – Episode 8 – Ohio

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By Lord Ashcroft

With days to go before the presidential election, undecided voters in Cincinnati react to the latest chapter of the Clinton email saga and talk about the decision they have to make next Tuesday; Henry Gomez of the state’s biggest paper, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, tells us why early voting here could give Hillary the advantage; and I interview former Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean and top Republican strategist Steve Schmidt about the prospects for the election and the future of American politics.

 

‘He’s tapped into something really down and dirty in our country’: my focus groups in Florida

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By Lord Ashcroft

Since the recount that transfixed the world sixteen years ago, Florida has become known as the ultimate swing state. With one exception, Florida has been carried by the winning candidate in every presidential election since 1964. Most recent polls here give Hillary Clinton the edge in the presidential race, but since both she and Donald Trump have visited Tampa this week, it is clear neither side thinks the race here is over. Meanwhile, Marco Rubio, the Republican Senator who was one of Trump’s rivals in the primary, faces a tough battle to hold on to his seat on Capitol Hill.

According to Joe Scarborough, the host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe show and a former U.S. Congressman from the Florida, his home remains “a true swing state” despite having voted twice for Obama, with most polls showing Hillary Clinton ahead. “You just have to elect the right type of Republican that can win there. And Donald Trump, and his attacks on Hispanic voters, especially Mexicans at the beginning of the process just didn’t help him with the large numbers of Hispanics in the state of Florida.”

That was certainly borne out in our focus groups with Hispanic voters in Miami (more…)

Ashcroft In America podcast – Episode 7 – Florida

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By Lord Ashcroft

In the latest edition of the Ashcroft In America podcast I interview Joe Scarborough, host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe; pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson tells us what the numbers say about the election result; historian Jon Darman considers whether we could be in for a Hillary landslide; and Hispanic voters in Miami and military families in Tampa tell us how they see the presidential and Senate races in the ultimate swing state.

 

Ashcroft In America podcast – Episode 6 – Arizona

aina

By Lord Ashcroft

In Episode Six of the Ashcroft In America podcast, I speak to the BBC’s Jon Sopel about covering Washington as a foreign correspondent and why people in Britain often misunderstand America, Rebekah Sanders of the Arizona Republic tells us why the traditionally Republican state could go either way in November, the Latino rights activist Petra Falcon explains the voter registration drive that could swing the election, and the voters of Phoenix react to the week’s campaign news.

 

 

My US election focus groups in Phoenix, Arizona

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By Lord Ashcroft

 

In last week’s Philadelphia focus groups, Donald Trump’s supporters brushed aside the recording of their candidate’s unseemly conversation about women. Since then, a number of women had come forward to claim he had assaulted them – was this beyond the pale? Perhaps surprisingly, none of the Trump supporters we spoke to in Phoenix this week argued the allegations were false – just that there were more important things at stake (more…)