Debate: Supreme Court and the Middle East
The Supreme Court question benefited Trump. While both hardcore liberals and hardcore conservatives are motivated by the Supreme Court issue to vote for Hillary or Trump, psychological research shows that people are far more motivated by potential losses than by potential gains. So losing the Supreme Court is more motivating to conservatives than gaining the Supreme Court is to liberals.
Furthermore, Trump is facing an insurrection within his own party much more so than Hillary. There are some disgruntled Bernie supporters, but that’s minor compared to the persistent #NeverTrumpers in the Republican Party, so every time there is a reminder about the Supreme Court, this benefits Trump.
Trump was also very smart to not say anything at all about abortion. Based on Pence’s performance in the vice presidential debate, if Pence were on stage he would not have been able to refrain from using that question as a platform to talk about fetuses. The hardcore conservatives who care about the Supreme Court don’t need to be reminded about abortion, but talking about it turns off many prole whites in Pennsylvania. A large percentage of those prole whites in Pennsylvania normally vote Democratic. Trump needs those votes.
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When the Trump haters say that Trump has no policies, they are obviously not paying attention to the foreign policy discussions at the debates, where Trump has a viewpoint that’s significantly different than mainstream Republican or Democratic thinking. I enjoyed it when Trump swatted away what Pence said in the vice presidential debate and reiterated a position he previously stated in primary debates, that we should let Assad and ISIS fight each other.
If there was an opportunity to remove Assad, that opportunity happened a few years ago and was bungled by the Obama administration and now appears to be off the table. It seems like the only way to have a government in Syria that’s neither Assad nor ISIS is for the U.S. to take over the country the way we did with Iraq, but no one wants to do that. Given the situation, Trump’s policy to let Assad and Putin reassert order over Syria is sensible and legitimate.
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Both of these topics demonstrate what I’ve previously observed, that Pence is totally out of step with Trumpism and doesn’t even seem to get that he’s out of step. Nevertheless, Pence was still a good pick for VP. He’s been loyal to Trump in his own way, and his gravitas won the vice presidential debate.