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Five DNC questions for GOP consultant Michael Caputo

Michael Caputo, a Republican Party strategist, is providing a Republican perspective to this week’s Democratic National Convention in response to questions from News Political Reporter Robert J. McCarthy.

Can this convention help Hillary Clinton overcome the feeling of untrustworthiness that – along with Donald Trump – makes her one of the most unpopular candidates in history?

Negative voter sentiment is the hardest perception to change in politics. Doing so takes a sustained, deliberate voter contact program executed over time. Both candidates’ negatives are so high they can only hope to change things on the margin in time for Election Day.

Trump has the advantage here: his negatives are personality based, hers are trust based. You can redefine a personality fairly quickly; making up ground in trustworthiness takes far more time.

[Live coverage: Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia]

Hillary Clinton is about to become the first woman to be nominated for the presidency by a major party. Are there significant numbers of people who will not vote for a woman for president? Or is the modern electorate past that?

I think America has passed that point; I’ve seen polls showing only a tiny segment of voters refuse to cast a ballot for a woman for president. However, while Gallup shows 90 percent of voters would vote for a woman president, 22 percent of voters think they know somebody who would never vote for a woman. That’s an interesting societal disconnect. I’ve also seen research that suggests there’s a support ceiling for Clinton based on her gender, but I don’t think it will matter much in November.

Sunday talk shows were fixated on the disclosure of internal emails that seemed to confirm Bernie Sanders’ contention that the Democratic National Committee was "in the tank" for Clinton. Will the controversy ultimately make any difference?

Wikileaks’ Democratic National Committee email leak has completely swamped the 2016 Democratic convention – DNC Chairwoman Rep. Deborah Wasserman Schultz was forced to resign, her own Florida delegation booed her off the stage Monday morning and protesters outside the convention are calling for Bernie Sanders to walk away from Clinton. This was supposed to be the calm, unified convention, but the Republican confab is already looking far more unified. This hack will hurt, and hurt for weeks.

Will Sanders’ supporters follow Clinton into the Democratic fold? Or will they be attracted to Trump and some of his similarly populist themes?

It looked like party unity was well on the way until Wikileaks revealed thousands of DNC emails proving the ex-chairwoman and her staff were helping Hillary Clinton beat Bernie Sanders. As a result, today the Democrats are more fractured that the Republican Party, and that’s really saying something in 2016. Wikileaks just made that worse.

Could Donald Trump actually win New York State, as some Republicans claim? How about upstate? How about Erie County?

Donald Trump has more of a chance of winning New York State than any Republican presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan’s 1984 landslide, the last time the GOP won here. With a more than two-to-one Democrat registration advantage in the state, a GOP victory is a tall order. To do so, Mr. Trump must win upwards of 33 percent of the New York City vote – difficult, even for a paradigm-shifting candidate.

But if he does, and he wins upstate big, he just might win. He’s expected to do well upstate - and he’ll win Erie County by a landslide. To my mind, if the Trump campaign forces Clinton to campaign in New York even just one day, Donald Trump has won the national election.

email: rmccarthy@buffnews.com

 

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