Donald Trump’s clickbait candidacy

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures and declares "You're fired!" at a rally on June 17, 2015, in Manchester, N.H.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures and declares “You’re fired!” at a rally on June 17, 2015, in Manchester, N.H.

BY DONALD GILLILAND  dgilliland@tribweb.com

Not all polls are created equal.

It’s a hard fact in an election year struggling with fact.

Since Monday night’s debate, Donald Trump’s campaign has been trying to peddle the idea he won in a landslide with “polls” pulled from websites as varied as Time and Brietbart.

It’s embarrassing, it’s wrong, and it’s a sad indication of how far the Republican party has fallen.

A scientific poll – such as the ones tracked by Real Clear Politics – is based on a random sample of prospective voters, carefully weighted to account for demographics. Pollsters stake their reputations on the accuracy of these polls, so the emphasis on SCIENCE should not be underestimated.

A non scientific poll – such as those that have proliferated in the Internet age – are entertainment. They are based on nothing more than how many people visiting the website have clicked on the poll – and many allow a single person to click as many times as he’d like.

That’s why they’re often referred to as “clickbait.”

The kinder term is “audience engagement.” People click on the poll, get a glimpse of the results and feel… well, something… and they’re tempted to return (more clicks) to check on the results.

There’s nothing scientific about it, and it bears no relation to reality whatsoever.

Apparently that applies to Trump’s campaign for the presidency as well.

After Monday night’s debate, Trump tweeted a conglomeration of clickbait polls and proclaimed “Such a great honor. Final debate polls are in – and the MOVEMENT wins!”

Trump poll

In an echo chamber, perhaps. In the real world, time – and scientific polls – will tell.

The fact that Trump – an inveterate, and at times indiscriminate tweeter – did a bit of chest-thumping over clickbait is less surprising than the fact his campaign proceeded to pitch the unscientific polls to reporters.

Trump’s Pennsylvania communications director Greg Manz emailed the media a list of clickbait polls with this message: “ICYMI: Donald Trump soundly defeated Hillary Clinton in Monday’s debate as evidenced by the below polls.”

Those polls aren’t evidence that Trump won anything: at best, they’re evidence of the political affiliation of the subset of each website’s readership that clicks on polls… at best.

They are – to put it nicely – what the bull deposits in the pasture after he’s eaten his fill of grass.

Neither Manz nor David Urban, Trump’s senior advisor in Pennsylvania,  responded to request to comment.

That we have a Presidential campaign that seriously conflates scientific polls with clickbait – and expects responsible reporters to peddle such garbage to American citizens – is a sign of just how far we’ve sunk this election.

Trump poll 3Why such a fuss? Because basic literacy in science and math is essential. American jobs increasingly require advanced science and math skills; that’s why schools in cities like Pittsburgh focus so intently on STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Our culture – from our smart phones to the doctor’s office – rests upon a foundation of sound science and math.

Americans must be able to distinguish between competence and a cow pat.

The greatest country on Earth cannot endure for long if its citizens are ignorant of basic science. America’s leaders – regardless of party – must foster such literacy or they will “lead” us into decline.

Yet Trump and his campaign promote clickbait as if it were science.

The Republican party should be deeply ashamed.

This was first posted Sept. 28, 2016 at 9:43 a.m.

Clinton produces ‘Trump Road Show’ for Pennsylvania

BY SALENA ZITO  szito@tribweb.com

The Trump Road Show has come to Pennsylvania… at least in the form of a website that the Hillary Clinton campaign launched Thursday morning to highlight Trump business dealings they find questionable.

TrumpRoadshow.com is a clearing house of Trump’s history of job creation in foreign countries, which lists many of the foreign-made products he produces to further his brand and notes specific places in Pennsylvania where they could be made.

The roll-out criticizing Trump’s outsourcing comes the same day that Pittsburgh native Tom Vilsack, President Barack Obama’s Secretary of Agriculture, will tour rural Southwestern Pennsylvania to promote Clinton’s candidacy and outline Trump’s business record.

The campaign said Vilsack will “point to Trump’s failed business record and fraudulent promises as reasons why voters should reject Trump in November and instead back Hillary Clinton, who has real plans to boost U.S. manufacturing, crack down on corporations who ship jobs overseas, and support small businesses,” in an emailed press release.

The Clinton campaign – noting Trump tie clips, cufflinks, vodka, mirrors, suits and barware are all made overseas – says he cares more for his self promotion than American workers.

Clinton currently holds a comfortable 10 percentage point lead over Trump in Pennsylvania according to the latest Quinnipiac University battleground survey.

That lead comes as Trump has revamped his campaign for a third time, bringing in new leadership, an evolving view on immigration, what’s touted as outreach to the African American community and a more polished candidate on the stump.

Clinton faces growing unrest among the press as she has gone over 260 days without holding a press conference – despite new revelations the FBI found 15,000 new emails in its investigation of her and a federal judge’s order that the State Department hasten their release.

This story was first posted 11:45 a.m. Thursday, August 25 2016

Rain drenches delegates as they enter last day of Democratic Convention

Dean Genth, 66, of Mason City, Iowa
Dean Genth, 66, of Mason City, Iowa

BY TOM FONTAINE  tfontaine@tribweb.com

Iowa delegate Dean Genth’s blue button-down shirt was soaked when the final night of the convention began Thursday.

Like many convention-goers who ventured to Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center in the afternoon, Genth, 66, of Mason City had to make his way through pouring rain.

“No amount of rain is going to dampen my excitement about tonight,” said Genth, who used the ride-share service Uber to get from his Center City hotel to the arena in South Philadelphia.

Genth and his husband, Gary Swenson, hosted a Clinton campaign event at their house in May 2015. Genth and Swenson, the first gay couple to receive a marriage license at the Cerro Gordo Courthouse after the state legalized gay marriage in April 2009, supported Barack Obama when he ran against Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primary.

“She was a great candidate then. Now she’s an even better one,” Genth said, pointing to the experience Clinton gained as secretary of State after that primary race.

This story was first posted Thursday, July 28, 2016 at 6:15 p.m.

Who ya gonna call? Trumpbusters!

Jason Bloomberg, 55, of Cheyenne, Wyo. sports an array of buttons as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
Jason Bloomberg, 55, of Cheyenne, Wyo. sports an array of buttons as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

BY TOM FONTAINE  tfontaine@tribweb.com

Jason Bloomberg says he’s a “walking billboard” for defeating Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in November.

His vest was covered with political buttons Wednesday as he walked through a concourse at Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center during the Democratic National Convention.

Jason Bloomberg, 55, of Cheyenne, Wyo. sports an array of buttons as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
Jason Bloomberg, 55, of Cheyenne, Wyo. sports an array of buttons as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

More than a dozen of them were emblazoned with the word “Trumpbusters” and an image resembling the logo from the movie “Ghostbusters” – except that the ghost bore a remarkable resemblance to Trump, including his signature sweep of orange hair.

“Our democracy is facing the threat of a Trump presidency,” said Bloomberg, 55, a Hillary Clinton delegate from of Cheyenne, Wyo. “Nothing is progressive about Donald Trump. We need to bust him.”

Bloomberg drove 1,300 miles from Cheyenne to Philadelphia in an electric car, with a fellow Wyoming delegate riding shotgun. He said his car was adorned with anti-Trump messages.

During their 3½-day trip, the Wyoming Trumpbusters stopped many times and struck up conversation with people.

“It was wonderful. Even a lot of Republicans out there don’t like Trump,” Bloomberg said.

This story was first posted Thursday, July 28, 2016 at 10:50 a.m.

DePasquale calls Trump’s Russia request ‘Looney-Tunes’

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale addresses Pennsylvania delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on Wednesday, July 27.
Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale addresses Pennsylvania delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on Wednesday, July 27.

BY DONALD GILLILAND  dgilliland@tribweb.com

“The world of crazy land, Looney-Tunes, Bugs Bunny,” said Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale at a luncheon for Pennsylvania delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia as he informed them of the latest Donald Trump statement.

DePasquale recounted how during a press conference earlier in the day, the Republican presidential candidate looked into the cameras and asked Russian officials, who American security experts believe to be behind the hacking of Democratic party computers, to look for Hillary Clinton’s emails.

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said.

Clinton’s senior policy advisor Jake Sullivan responded: “This has to be the first time that a major presidential candidate has actively encouraged a foreign power to conduct espionage against his political opponent. That’s not hyperbole, those are just the facts. This has gone from being a matter of curiosity, and a matter of politics, to being a national security issue.”

The Associated Press reported members of the Republican Party leadership denounced Trump’s statement.

Former CIA director Leon Panetta told CNN Trump’s statement was “totally outrageous.”

“Asking Russia to engage in American politics,” he said, “that’s beyond the pale.”

“I wish I was making this up,” DePasquale said, characterizing Trump’s campaign as “a world of conspiracy theories and hate mongering.”

“It is up to all of us not to just be against Donald Trump – in my opinion, that’s easy – it’s also about being behind Hillary Clinton because it’s about moving the country forward,” he told delegates.

DePasquale said “it’s easy to forget January 2009 and January 1993,” when Democratic presidents had to begin cleaning up “major messes” left by Republican presidents, but cleaning up after a Trump presidency would be monumental.

“I just can’t imagine it,” he said.

This story was first posted Wednesday, July 27, 2016 at 2:11 p.m.

 

President to address convention Wednesday

BY DONALD GILLILAND  dgilliland@yahoo.com

President Barack Obama will headline the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia Wednesday.

He will have do well indeed to top the bar set by First Lady Michelle Obama Monday night; her speech won plaudits from Republicans as well as the Democratic faithful.

Vice President Joe Biden will also address the convention, as will vice-presidential nominee Tim Kaine; other speakers include former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, retired Navy Rear Admiral John Hutson, and Jesse Jackson.

Actress Sigourney Weaver will speak, as will Angela Bassett, Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly. Lenny Kravitz will perform.

The theme for the evening is “Working Together: A Clear Choice.”

The roster of non-celebrity speakers includes Erica Smegielski, whose mother was the principal of Sandy Hook Elementary and was killed while trying to protect her students; Felicia Sanders & Polly Sheppard, two of the three survivors of the Mother Emanuel Church shooting; and Jamie Dorff, whose husband – an Army helicopter pilot – died while on a search and rescue mission in northern Iraq.

This story was posted Wednesday, July 27, 2016 at 10:37 a.m.

Clinton campaign emphasizes different convention tone

BY SALENA ZITO  szito@tribweb.com

PHILADELPHIA – Hillary Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook promised reporters the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia “is going to be optimistic, it’s going to be hopeful and it’s going to be talking about specific plans,” as protesting Bernie Sanders supporters shouted their displeasure to passing delegates entering the convention center downtown.

Mook said this convention would have a fundamentally different tone than the darkness of the GOP convention in Cleveland last week where Texas Sen. Ted Cruz walked off the stage to boos when he failed to endorse the nominee, Donald Trump.

“Boy, was it depressing, it was all doom and gloom,” Mook said of the Republican National Convention. “Our convention is going to be optimistic, it’s going to be hopeful,” he said.

“Sen. Bernie Sanders has already endorsed Secretary Clinton, he is coming to double-down on that endorsement,” Mook said of Clinton’s primary rival.

Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon said there will be a full roll-call vote of all of the delegations on Tuesday, something that Sanders supporters stressed they wanted to have as part of the convention. The roll-call will give them a moment to publicly demonstrate Sanders’ presence at the event.

“It is exactly in keeping with our philosophy that every vote should be counted, and that means every delegate being counted on the floor of the convention,” Fallon said.

Sanders will speak Monday evening along with First Lady Michelle Obama.

Fallon said outgoing DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s decision not to speak after she announced her resignation Sunday was her own and that Clinton had nothing to do with it.

As far as Trump goes, Mook told reporters to ignore polls showing him with a convention bump following his acceptance: “I’d suspend any polling analysis until after the convention.”

This story was first posted Monday, July 25, 2016 at 1:12 p.m.

Pennsylvania shares pride of place at Democratic convention

BY TOM FONTAINE  tfontaine@tribweb.com

Pennsylvania’s delegation to the Democratic National Convention is one of eight that will be seated on the convention floor at Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center.

Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and her running mate, U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, have close ties to several states on the floor.

Clinton’s father was from Scranton, and she was baptized and spent her childhood summers in Pennsylvania. She was born Illinois, formerly served as First Lady of Arkansas, and served as a senator from New York. Kaine currently serves Virginia in the U.S. Senate.

Delegations from Florida, Iowa and Nebraska are also on the convention floor.

The remaining 49 delegations will be in the lower level of the arena, which seats 19,500 people. The convention opens Monday afternoon and runs through Thursday.

Pennsylvania has 210 Democratic delegates, of which 127 are committed to Clinton and 83 to U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Immediately after convention, Clinton to launch bus tour into Pennsylvania, Ohio Rust Belt

This file photo taken on July 14, 2016 shows US Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and US Senator Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia, waving during a campaign rally at Ernst Community Cultural Center in Annandale, Virginia. (Getty Images)
This file photo taken on July 14, 2016 shows US Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and US Senator Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia, waving during a campaign rally at Ernst Community Cultural Center in Annandale, Virginia. (AFP/Getty Images)

BY SALENA ZITO  szito@tribweb.com

First stop for Hillary Clinton after her nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia this week?
The Rust Belt.
Clinton and her running mate, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, plan to launch a bus tour from Independence Hall straight into Donald Trump strongholds in Western Pennsylvania and Ohio, according to a Clinton aide.
The tour will focus on jobs and the economy and will include predominantly white, former industrial towns like Johnstown in Cambria County, where Mitt Romney won four years ago with 58 percent. The tour will also hit Youngstown and Columbus in Ohio.
Along the way, of course, the bus will stop in larger centers such as Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, but the fact the Democrats are focusing first on Pennsylvania and Ohio and going to places like Johnstown and Youngstown means they haven’t written off the areas where Trump’s campaign has gained considerable traction.
It may also be an indication the Democrats understand that in this election, Pennsylvania could be won – or lost – on the margins.
The bus will leave Philadelphia Friday, make a combination of public rallies, smaller issue events, and local retail stops across Pennsylvania on Friday and Saturday, enter Ohio Saturday night, and finish on Sunday.
This story was first posted Sunday, July 24, 2016 at 12:01 p.m.

Fetterman throws support to Hillary Clinton

BY SALENA ZITO  szito@tribweb.com

John Fetterman, the colorful Mayor of Braddock, drives home his support for Hillary Clinton in a video this morning that underscores the efforts the Clinton campaign has made to bring unity to the Democratic party after a long and sometimes divisive primary contest between the former Secretary of State and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Fetterman, who recently ran a surprisingly strong upstart campaign for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate against Joe Sestak and Katie McGinty, says that as a former proud supporter of Bernie Sanders he was happy now to be with Clinton in her quest for the presidency.

“As a father of three young children, and a proud former Bernie supporter, there is far too much at stake in this election to stand on the sidelines, and I would urge anyone that you really need to get behind Secretary Clinton in this race,” Fetterman says in the opening remarks in the video.

Fetterman’s support will be on display in person this evening when he will kick off a “Pennsylvania Together” organizing event at 7 p.m. on Pittsburgh’s South Side at  10 S. 19th Street . Fetterman will be joined by local elected officials and volunteers and supporters of Clinton and Sanders.

“To sit this race out you may as well put on a ‘Make America Great’ hat,'” he said in reference to Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump’s trademark slogan.

The most recent swing-state poll from Quinnipiac University shows Trump very narrowly leading Clinton  43 percent to 41 percent in Pennsylvania, one of three critical battleground states that include Ohio and Florida. Trump’s lead is within the poll’s margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points.

Pennsylvania has not voted for a Republican for president since 1988; it is also host to the Democratic National Convention which will be held in Philadelphia in less than two weeks.

This story was originally posted at 10:06 a.m. June 13, 2016