Monday, January 25, 2016

Risky Business

Donald Trump built his real estate empire by taking big risks. A great many worked out well but he also had his share of losers. Companies that he controlled went into bankruptcy four times.
In fact, Money magazine reports that no U.S. company over the last 30 years has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy more than Trump's casino empire has.
He only avoided personal bankruptcy because he was in so deep with his lenders that they figured that it was better to have him as their "partner" as they tried to work off, write off and restructure the debt in his deals than have him as an adversary in Bankruptcy Court.

Risk has defined Trump's business career. In my view, it is also the most important consideration in evaluating whether to support Trump for President.

Make no mistake, I believe that Trump has had a positive impact on the Presidential race. He has confounded and dumbfounded all the political experts. He has taken on tough issues with tough talk. He has brought a lot of energy and enthusiasm to the process.

All the polling and the political punditry is fun early in a Presidential primary race. Trump has made it even more fun this year. However, it is time to start casting and counting real votes.   

The first votes in the Presidential primaries will be cast in one week.The dating phase is almost over. It is time to decide who you are going to live (or die) with for the next four years. 

It is my opinion that there is real risk for Republicans in voting for Trump. Everyone needs to ask themselves whether the potential return is worth the risk? I understand the motivation to vote for him. However, are you going to get what you want in return? I don't think so.

2016 should be the year for Republicans in the Presidential race. Eight years of Obama have left the American public weary of unfulfilled promises of "hope and change" and leery of more liberal "solutions" to our problems.

The Democrats appear to be giving America a choice between a 69 year old former First Lady who 60% of Americans believe is untrustworthy and dishonest and a 75 year old Socialist who wants to hand out "free" stuff by taxing everyone by an additional $19.6 trillion over the next decade. To put that in context, that would be 47% more in tax revenues than the U.S. Treasury is currently collecting from all of us. No one will be left unscathed.

When looking at these options it is hard to see how the Republicans can lose.

However, with Trump, the risk is real.

Why do I say that?

First, let's look at polling data. Trump likes to cite polls (especially when they are favorable to him).

While Trump sits atop national Republicans polls right now, he still has a lower favorable rating (+27) than Ted Cruz (+51), Ben Carson (+47), Marco Rubio (+46), Mike Huckabee (+40) and Carly Firoina (+30) among all Republican voters. There are clearly a lot of Republicans who like Trump. However, there are a sizeable number of Republicans who dislike him. That is a potential problem for him in the primary battles when the size of the field narrows. However, it is potentially fatal flaw in the general election. The GOP has to turn out its base for its candidate to have any chance of winning. There is a real risk that Trump causes a lot of Republicans to stay home and not vote in November. RISK!

Even worse, Trump's net favorable rating with Independents and Democrats is terrible. He is -27 with Independents. That is double Jeb Bush's net unfavorable rating with the same group. Trump is -70 with Democrats. That does not bode well in the General Election. RISK!

How do you win an election if a 1/3 of your own party does not have a favorable opinion of you and you have a net negative favorable rating of -27 with Independents? RISK!

Second, when will Donald Trump's mouth catch up with him? Through gaffes, guffaws and grumbles, Trump has thus far been immune to any damage to his poll numbers. However, there most certainly is going to be a point when his mouth gets him in big trouble. I would prefer that it not be after he is nominated and is the GOP candidate. RISK!

It seems you can almost sense a fall may be in the offing when Trump said this over the weekend,

 "I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters,"

Third, how many skeletons lurk in Trump's closet? One of the major gripes that many had about Barack Obama's candidacy in 2008 was the fact that the press never seemed to be interested in vetting him like they did other candidates.

The same has been true thus far with Trump.

We have heard about Ben Carson threatening his mother as a 13-year old.

We have heard about Rubio being arrested as an 18-year old when he was in a park after hours. 

We have heard that the freshman roommate of Ted Cruz at Princeton did not like him.

What have we heard about Trump? Almost nothing.

Will he continue to get a free ride? I doubt it.

This is a man who has been involved in the rough and tumble world of real estate development and construction for almost 50 years. A world where special political influence is often critical on issues such as zoning and eminent domain. A world where the labor has increasingly been drawn from immigrant populations (how much was illegal?). A world where many jobs were created but where a lot of workers also got laid off. A world in New York construction in which labor unions and the Mob were always close by. RISK!

This is a man who has been married 3 times. Questions of infidelity?  RISK!

This is a man who has stated he does not think he has ever asked God for forgiveness in his almost 70 years of life. Really? RISK!

This is a man who has previously expressed support for abortion, universal health care, a wealth tax, income tax increases and has changed his political affiliation at least five times over the years. RISK!!
I will sum this up as Donald Trump might say it.

I really like Donald Trump. He seems like a nice guy. However, he is better suited to taking risks in the business world. He is not the kind of guy I want to bet our country's future on.

It is really risky, risky business voting for this guy to represent our party in November.

It doesn't matter whether you like what he says and how he says it. I like a lot of it myself. 

It is placing a very, very big bet with a lot of risk attached. A very big bet. And the odds are that some how, some way, at some time, Trump's luck is going to run out as surely as it did with his Atlantic City casinos. If it happens after he has the nomination it will insure that Hillary or Bernie will follow Obama into The White House. And there will be nothing we can do about it then.

However, we can do something about it now. Avoid that risk to begin with. Not one vote has yet been cast.

A vote for Trump is Risky Business. 

It is that simple.

Credit: NBC via

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