503 days until Election Day 2020: How Trump Wins + 2020 Themes


As we look at the campaign today, Trump starts his campaign with a strong economy, the massive advantage of incumbency, and a network wealthy GOP donors -- all important assets that historically predict victory and a second term. 

However, we are talking about Trump, the most unconventional candidate we have seen in the modern era hitting the campaign trail at a time where personality trumps policy.

Trump is never far from controversies and the hard-right agenda of his first term have kept his approval rating hovering around 40%. Plus he will be facing engaged and committed voters on the left which should translate into unusually strong voter turnout in 2020.

Watching his reelection campaign Tuesday night, the rally was trapped in time, full of grievances, bumper-sticker friendly slogans and solutions, plus a stable of villains used as a foil, all tools that propelled him to victory the first time around.

How Trump Wins:

Winning the popular vote doesn’t matter
 = Securing the most electoral college votes in 2020 is all that matters. Campaign resources and energy will turn to the swing states rich in those electoral college votes. Wisconsin, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania stand out because Trump managed to flip them from the Democrats in 2016. A total of 270 electoral votes are needed to win the election; Trump took 306 electoral votes in his victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Ignore the polls = Trump's campaign manager says polling is no longer reliable, days after a big leak of unflattering internal polling data. "I just think the country is too complex now to call a couple hundred people and ask them what they think," Brad Parscale told CBS News hours ahead of Trump's event Tuesday evening in Orlando, FL., to officially kick off his 2020 campaign. Plus the numbers will never be good for Trump. For the next two years, it is not hard to see Trump being behind in every poll, be it national or battleground. Plus, we will be reminded constantly the polls were wrong in 2016 and they will be wrong in 2020.

They + them vs us =  Trump will embrace raw, partisan populism throughout the campaign. Not so much good vs. evil, but “us” (Team Trump) versus an ominous mob of left-wing wackos and intellectual elites. Trump has made clear that he seeks to turn out his base with appeals to their fear of immigrants and their hostility toward Washington and the Democratic Party.

“Imagine having a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress in 2020"

“This election is a verdict on whether we want to live in a country where the people who lose an election refuse to concede and spend the next two years trying to shred our constitution and rip your country apart.” 

Team Trump's election machine = The last time Trump ran a by-the-seat-of-the-pants campaign befitting someone who'd never once held elected office or frankly knew what he was doing. Not this time. Team Trump brims with campaign professionals, complete support and use of the Republican National Committee, at present a $40 million COH, and a world-class omnipresent online and offline campaign strategy. Plus, Trump just raised a record $24.8 million in less than 24 hours Tuesday as he officially kicked off his reelection campaign - this one-day total is more than any Democratic presidential candidate raised in the entire first quarter.

Twitter Trump = Trump’s Twitter account reaches more than 61 million followers and it’s now joined by a sophisticated digital media operation that is outpacing Democrats. Unlike last time, his campaign now has a professional, even corporate communications structure matched with paid staff across the country coupled with targeted paid advertising already underway.

Keep economy hot = Trump needs to land a trade deal, remind voters of tax breaks, suggest the need to pass infrastructure spending, and use the NYSE as his barometer.  When you run the economic numbers used to shape the news, plus favored by economists and political scientists to predict incumbent performance, these data points consistently suggest Trump will win reelection.

Demonize + define the Democrat = Trump will move fast define his DEM opponent as washed-up, years of failure, and DC insider (Biden) or he’ll define his Dem opponent as a scary, Venezuela is around the corner,  hard-left socialist (Warren).

The DEM’s big bet is more campaign and less cause = Democrats running for president are banking on the idea that most Americans are ready to return to a more predictable and “normal” presidency. DEMs have criticized Trump for departing from norms, undermining US allies, engaging in sporadic foreign policy, and leaving the public in a constant state of anxiety about what he might do next. But Trump speaks of us, you, and a movement, plus it will be impossible for his voters to forget they were called deplorable by their last candidate.

“You sent me to the White House”

Captain chaos = Create as much chaos in DEM primary as possible. That starts next week when he live-tweets the first DEM debates and Chuck Todd is forced to decide to ignore said tweets or rip up the script and inject Trump’s latest rant into the debate.

Immigration is Trump's most polarizing issue = When polled, consistently swing voters identify the issue as either the top reason for supporting him or the number one reason for opposing him. Trump made immigration central to the 2018 midterm election and there is no sense he will drop the issue for the 2020 election. In Tuesday’s rally, he blamed Democrats for immigration laws that he called “a disgrace” and cited with particular disgust California’s attempts to give health benefits to some of those in the country illegally.
Remain the change candidate = 8 of the last 10 elections the change candidate has won. Even though he lives in the White House and works in the Oval Office Trump remainers an outsider and is frankly despised around DC. The trick for him is to remind his voters that work to change America has just become and he needs four more years to finish the job.

Judges = At present, Trump has 145 judge appointments available to him and 107 have already been appointed. This is huge. Even if he loses re-election, Trump has changed the nation for a generation and has already won. His voters over-index on judges, and where the DEMs put forward flower-child policies, Team Trump is codifying a right-wing, conservative judicial branch.

2020 Themes:



Marc A. Ross specializes in thought leaders communications for global business working at the intersection of globalization, disruption, and politics. He is the founder of Brigadoon and Caracal Global.

Thoughts on logos and branding

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Frequently I am asked to help an organization with creating a logo or updating a logo - some paid gigs, many seeking a free consultation.

Based on years of experience and repeated patterns, here are some quick thoughts:

1. A logo is important, but it isn't that important: Having a stellar product and world-class service is far more important. I have worked with numerous executives who fret more over the shades of blue then how they are delivering their service and making sure their products do what it says it will do. Frankly tweaking colors and designing a logo is more fun and easier than building a global supply chain or executing superior customer service.

2. Think small and impactful: A logo is a tool to quickly provide a recognizable symbol of your organization - it's even more important as consumers are spending more and more time looking at small screens. Logos no longer enjoy the mass of a box or a bag - now they need to make an impact that works for Instagram and Twitter. Think small and impactful - you are now competing for attention on a crowded smartphone screen.

3. The Eiffel Tower test: Remember, when the tower was unveiled in 1889 nobody liked it and experts criticized it as a blight on the Paris sky. Now years later it is an iconic, instantly recognized, and a symbol of a nation. So think long-term and don't listen to experts - your logo isn't for them.

4. Your name and the associated letters are powerful: Beyond a logo or brand stamp is your name. And your name is your name. You own it. Take advantage of it. Embrace it. Repeat it. Use it.

5. Keep it simple: You are not some avant-garde artist. Keep your logo simple and remember what matters = a stellar product and world-class service matters more deserve more of your attention and energy.


Marc A. Ross specializes in thought leaders communications for global business working at the intersection of globalization, disruption, and politics. He is the founder of Brigadoon and Caracal Global.

Facebook + Libra Blockchain


Facebook is set Tuesday to unveil a bid to bring cryptocurrency payments into the mainstream, reportedly with the endorsement of governments and financial giants. The world's biggest social network is expected to outline details of a virtual currency launching next year that it hopes will avoid the rollercoaster volatility of "blockchain" technologies such as bitcoin.

Facebook’s cryptocurrency will be governed by a consortium of firms known as the Libra Association, which includes the likes of Visa, Mastercard, and PayPal.

The Libra Blockchain will be backed by Libra Reserve, “a reserve of real assets” that will provide the cryptocurrency with “stability, low inflation, global acceptance, and fungibility.”

Why business models matter = narration + numbers


“Who is the customer? What does the customer value?” -- Peter Drucker

A good business model begins with an instinct into human motivations, fears, emotions, challenges, and desires flowing into a rich stream of profits.

Business models at their heart are stories which explain how the enterprise works and makes a profit.

When business models fail, they fail the narrative test (story) and the numbers test (profits + loss don’t add up).

Management consultant and writer Joan Magretta explains business models ask the fundamental questions: How do we make money in this business? What is the underlying economic logic that explains how we can deliver value to a customer at an appropriate cost?

Think of a business model like the scientific method - you start with an idea for a consumer need, you then test this need, and iterate as necessary.

Plus business models serve as an exceptional planning tool - a business model focuses attention on how the elements of the enterprise will work together to secure profits.

Business models often fail because they are built on feeble assumptions about human motivations, fears, emotions, challenges, and desires. Often business models are solutions in search of a problem.

Business models are not the same as a strategy. 

Business models describe a system of how the pieces work together, whereas strategy describes how you will do better than your rivals to capture and secure customers.

Sooner or later, if you are good and you have discovered a human need that can be executed profitably, you will foster competition.  Dealing with this competition is how you deploy your strategy. 

Executing the same business model with no strategy to differentiate yourself in terms of what customers and markets you serve will lead to failure. 

Failure not because of a business model, failure because you are trying to be all things to all people - there is no difference in experience, engagement, or effect between your company and the other company.

Being all things to all people has no story, no patina, no folklore. 

A proper business model tells a good story and has the ability to get customers aligned around the same values and same culture your company is bringing into existence.

A good story is easy to remember and is easy to repeat.

A good business model is easy to remember and easy to repeat.

A good business model is a narration that captures the numbers necessary to serve customers and remain in existence for the long-term.

- Marc

Marc A. Ross is the founder of Caracal Global and specializes in thought leader communications for global business executives working at the intersection of globalization, disruption, and politics.

DNC Names 20 Candidates for First Debates

  1. Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado

  2. Former Vice President Joe Biden

  3. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey

  4. South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg

  5. Former Housing Secretary Julián Castro

  6. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio

  7. Former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland

  8. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii

  9. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York

  10. Sen. Kamala Harris of California

  11. Former Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado

  12. Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington

  13. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota

  14. Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke of Texas

  15. Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio

  16. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont

  17. Rep. Eric Swalwell of California

  18. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts

  19. Author Marianne Williamson

  20. Entrepreneur Andrew Yang

The two-night debate, hosted by NBC News, MSNBC, and Telemundo, will take place on June 26 and 27 at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Miami.

The event will air live across all three networks from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m ET both nights.

Smartphone are the bulk of our digital media diet

Smartphones eat about a quarter of our day, a seven percent increase from last year. Digital media has eaten up more and more of the average American’s time, starting with just 2.7 hours a day a decade ago. Nearly all that growth has come from the amount of time people spend on smartphones, while computer time has declined, and connected device time has inched up only slightly. While digital media hours have been climbing, they are projected to plateau in the coming years, evidenced by the shrinking growth rate.