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politics

Trump: the 2020 election and why he’s here to stay

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Trump: the 2020 election and why he’s here to stay

I can still hear the faint not my president chant ringing through the streets of towns across America following the election of Donald Trump three years ago. It shook up the nation and politics generally, with ramifications across the globe. For many of the disappointed, it was a matter of holding tight before he would no doubt be rejected in 2020. Or even better, he’d be impeached before the next election even took place.

But let me tell you now: The Donald isn’t going anywhere. While he’s failed to broaden his base beyond his immediate supporters, history is on his side. The economy is doing well, unemployment is down, and he’s got more in the bank than any other past incumbent president at this stage in the campaign trail: all of which are key indicators of upcoming success. Let’s take a closer look.

It’s the economy, stupid

Very rarely has an incumbent presidential candidate gone on to win a second term when the economy is in decline. And fortunately for Donald, the US economy is very much on the up, and most importantly, in the right places. Given Trump has made few new friends, the key question for 2020 will be whether he has retained his old ones.

Here the economies of the rural, ‘forgotten’ states are significant, and they have boomed. Earlier this year it was reported that 10 states hit their lowest rates of unemployment in their histories: Alabama, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont and Wisconsin. Nine out of ten of these states voted for Trump. White men without degrees have experienced a 3.1% wage raise over the past two years, 1.5% for black men, 1.7% for white women, and 0.6% for black women.

But is this enough? As Thomas Edsall pointed out in his excellent most recent New York Times piece where he reveals these statistics, these were the same economic conditions under which Democrats reclaimed the House last November in the midterm elections.

Money talks

As the famous political philosophers ABBA once said: “it’s a rich man’s world”. Nowhere is this truer than in US elections. Not only will the successful candidate rack up hundreds of thousands of airmiles travelling across states, they need to fund cripplingly expensive ad campaigns. The price of victory ($400 million). Ads are the most significant expense for any campaign, with more than 70% of Obama’s re-election campaign expenses and 55% of Mitt Romney’s being spent on them. Literally billions of dollars are spent during election season, and nobody is better prepared for this than Trump.

The US President has already raised a whopping $30 million in the first quarter of 2019, more than both of his Democratic rivals combined. We’re still more than 18 months away from the ballot box and already the Trump campaign has spent nearly $11 million on Facebook ads since May 2018, running more than 190,000. By contrast, Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign had less than $2 million at this point in the election.

So is he really here to stay?

Before you all get too depressed, we do have to remember The Donald is nothing if not unpredictable. While campaign finance and the state of the economy are traditionally reliable indicators for the success of an incumbent president, we should know better than to rely on precedent and predictions from past elections.

Indeed, one of the reasons Trump was elected was that he represented change. Americans were bored of the same candidates (and dynasties) running the country and wanted an outsider. But Trump can’t claim this in 2020. He isn’t change anymore, he’s the incumbent.

With the full Mueller report released today fully clearing Trump of collusion with Russia, the reality of a second term feels a real possibility. For all the shiny videos emerging of Democrat candidates now pledging to change America, the cold facts remain that they lack the clear advantages Trump possesses ahead of 2020.

Sophia Stileman, Researcher

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If only Brexit wasn't so, you know, Brexity...

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If only Brexit wasn't so, you know, Brexity...

Let’s exercise our imagination for a second. 

In an alternate universe, Theresa May is the champion of the consumer, defender of JAMs, and lynchpin of Conservative majority rule following a landslide victory in the 2017 General Election, where her “nothing has changed” campaign won advertising awards for its cut through, simplicity, and honesty. In this timeline, May’s agenda is in full swing: house building is on the up, tax avoidance is decreasing, and the UK is the fastest growing economy in the G7. Oh and, of course, Brexit hasn’t occurred (let’s skip over the fact Cameron and Osborne might still be around). 

Sounds like utopia?

Back to reality and the Prime Minister's initiatives to defend consumers from broken markets are side-lined, the JAMs (Just About Managing families) are forgotten – along with her dream team of Nick and Fiona – and her majority rule is dependent on thirteen unruly Northern Irish DUP MPs who seem to be the only people in Parliament enjoying themselves…

As the news and parliamentary agendas constantly remind us, Brexit is all consuming. It is not simply an innocent bystander in the log jam that is Government policy. It is the roadblock, stretching from Trafalgar Square to the end of Victoria Street, from Holyrood to the Senedd and over the sea to Stormont. No elected official or civil servant can escape it.

 

NO ESCAPE

May and her Cabinet are desperate for alternative news stories. Their agenda (I’ll let you know when I actually find out what it is) is being lost in the day-to-day in-fighting of what type of Brexit we might negotiate. Will it be hard, will it be soft? Will we be in the customs union, a customs union, or none at all. Never has the indefinite article carried more meaning. 

But amidst all this non-debate, a serious issue is growing. Domestic policy is languishing. The NHS is still experiencing its worst ever winter crisis; the number of homeless has reached 275,000, with over 4,500 rough sleepers nationwide (a 175% rise since 2010); and the standard of social care has reached critical levels as Councils fail to balance the books after 8-years of austerity. One Council had their budget deemed “unlawful” by their auditors earlier this year. 

Major infrastructure decisions such as on Crossrail 2, Heathrow, HS3 and the urgent repair work on the Houses of Parliament are kicked down the road (again). Emergency services reaction times have grown as pressure on their limited resources increases. Rural public transport routes continue to be disbanded, leaving elderly citizens cut off from vital links to their communities – exasperated even further by the recent ‘Beast of the East’ weather surge. 

In Whitehall, over 600 civil servants are feverishly working within DexEU (Department for Exiting the European Union) and DIT (Department for International Trade) – although what the latter is actually doing at the moment is anyone’s guess (air miles are great if you can get them). This doesn’t even include the teams working within other Government Departments on how Brexit affects separate sectors: from farming, to air travel, to immigration, down to manufacturing standards. 

600 people who could be, and IMHO would love to be, working on any number of the issues mentioned above, rather than dealing with the consequences of Brexit.

 

A WAY FORWARD

So how can the Government find the time to focus on other priorities? In short, only with great difficulty.

Last Friday’s keynote speech by the Prime Minister on (you guessed it) Brexit provided some breathing space and allowed the media team, led by Robbie Gibb, to control the news cycle for the first time in months. May’s homebuilding initiative launched smoothly, and the choreographed State Visit of Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia would have led headlines if it weren’t for the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Salisbury. 

But this is the problem, only a landmark Brexit speech by the Prime Minister herself can push Brexit off the news cycle long enough for one announcement to sneak in, then, like an angrier version of Boris, Brexit screeches back into the limelight. 

The respite is just not long enough.

MPs want to help their constituents and focus on the issues they care about most. Our job as communications and public affairs professionals is to get that cut through. To ensure the issues are debated, challenged, and now more than ever, pushed forward. If you want help getting round the all consuming dementor that is Brexit to get your issue on the political agenda, we are here to help you conjure your patronus.

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My work ATLASt

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My work ATLASt

Ellie McKenzie reviews her two weeks work experience with Atlas Partners...

I wasn’t sure what to expect on my first morning as I climbed up the stairs to open the office door into my two weeks work experience with Atlas Partners, but I had the assumption that it would involve making a lot of tea and coffee. I couldn’t be more wrong, the only tea I was close to was the communi‘tea’.

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Budget 2017: spreadsheet Phil turns showman

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Budget 2017: spreadsheet Phil turns showman

Philip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer unveiled (probably) the last ever Spring Budget saying “our task today is to take the next steps in preparing Britain for a global future… (a thinly veiled Brexit reference) equip our young people with the skills they need, support our public services and build an economy that works for everyone.” His key message was that economic growth was not an end in itself, and the Government’s aim was to support “ordinary working families.

Despite his reputation as a spreadsheet nerd not a showman, Hammond didn’t pull any political punches, with several bruising attacks on the Labour opposition. But his team seemed surprisingly unprepared for the fall out over changes to National Insurance that broke promises from the Conservative 2015 manifesto. We've collated some of the latest stakeholder reaction so you don't have to... 

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An A to Z of politics in 2016

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An A to Z of politics in 2016

Consultant, Edmund Gavaghan, collates a political A to Z of 2016. The year that gave us more dodgy opinion polls, controversial leadership elections and wrong-footing of the political elite. Leaving those inside the Westminster bubble feeling 'we don't quite know what to expect next'. So over the festive break we invite you to take a look back at some of the key political happenings. 

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Lords reform, the saga continues..

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Lords reform, the saga continues..

As you settle down by the fire with a glass of something, Atlas Partners, co-founder Charles Napier offers a longer read on the prospect of House of Lords reform and why it may never come. 

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2016 media trends

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2016 media trends

Atlas Researcher, Martha Cleary wraps up 2016's media trends including twitter, snapchat, facebook live, #traingate, citizen journalism, breitbart, fake news and of course political cat fights because the internet still loves cats. 

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In the brave new world of 'Brexit' - what now?

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In the brave new world of 'Brexit' - what now?

Despite the fact that we will have a new Prime Minister by Wednesday, we know the only thing we can be certain of in the next 6 months is uncertainty. Today we are sharing our take on the brave new world of ‘Brexit’ and some practical tips for businesses and organisations trying to catch up with our fluid political landscape.

Above and beyond your business as usual public affairs engagement, what can you do now? How will 'Brexit' be implemented and who are the key players? For a quick check list click here but for a more detailed update read on.

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Leadership update part two...

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Leadership update part two...

For the first time in history, it looks as though the UK will spend the next two months finding a new leader for both the Conservative and Labour parties. With the political landscape rapidly changing, Labour are at a stalemate. Worst case scenario for the rebels in the Parliamentary party, Corbyn will be elected again by the party members and they will be stuck with him in the case of a snap election.

 

In the Conservatives, Stephen Crabb and Boris Johnson have both confirmed their bids, with Nicky Morgan, Theresa May, Jeremy Hunt and Liam Fox still considering their options before nominations open this evening. The vacuum of political leadership created by these two contests represents a significant opportunity for others to fill. The last few days have seen a concerted SNP diplomatic effort in Brussels, and 9,000 new members for the Liberal Democrats, with both parties seeking to seize the initiative. Nigel Farage has also stated his intention to go after the brexit voters in traditional Labour heartlands. So an Autumn General Election could produce a very different political landscape indeed. 

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Labour Leadership update part one...

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Labour Leadership update part one...

For those who might not have kept pace with the Labour leadership news, as resignation followed resignation over the last 24hrs, we've prepared a quick update here. 

We expect further developments to break after the Parliamentary Labour Party meeting tonight. At present, it looks like a stalemate between rebel MPs and Corbyn's supporters stubbornly sticking to his grassroots mandate. Unless John McDonnell gives Corbyn a final (private) push, it may be that only a poll of the full membership can settle this... 

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What happens next if we vote 'Brexit' tomorrow....?

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What happens next if we vote 'Brexit' tomorrow....?

We believe it pays to be prepared and that nothing is a foregone conclusion in politics. That is why we are today sharing our guide to what will happen next if there is a Brexit vote tomorrow. We look at the timings of the political, rather than the economic impact, reviewing all the speculation so that you don't have to. With the eve of poll polling showing the two campaigns neck and neck, we hope this will either be redundant by Friday or serve as a starter guide to the fall out from an unprecedented turning point. Make a cup of tea and read on...

Those with less time for the finer points of political process may prefer to start with our two-page summary table.

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Legacy and momentum the twin aims for Queen's Speech 2016

Legacy and momentum the twin aims for Queen's Speech 2016

This year’s Queen’s Speech is set to be a low key affair. Despite an apparently easy task - with a comfortable lead in the polls and an Opposition failing to make an impact - the Government has had a choppy start to 2016 and needs to use tomorrow’s political pomp and circumstance to re-establish momentum.
 
Thanks to the increasingly turbulent EU Referendum campaign, a poorly received Budget and a series of u-turns inflicted by pressure from Conservative backbenchers and the House of Lords, the government ship has been listing and it is putting Cameron’s legacy at risk. Read our preview of the Queen’s Speech 2016 and what it means.

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George's political prestidigitation: Budget 2016

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George's political prestidigitation: Budget 2016

In the gossipy world of political reporting you could be forgiven for missing the fact that the decisions being made in Westminster really do affect the bottom line of businesses, households and charities across the country. But anyone (including us) who has had to set up a workplace pension or is preparing to pay a dividend will know how important the implications of this stage-managed political theatre can be, especially in the week of the Budget.

We look at whether there is good news for business and whether there are lessons in media management that can be learned. 

Keep reading...

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