How Donald Trump Reverse Engineered the Presidential Race

Do you know how you feel good when a story makes you laugh out loud? You can be alone in your car on a highway full of desperate souls returning from a day at the office. You’re driving along with a big grin on your face, and every so often you let out a pleased laugh which must look odd to the other drivers because they can’t hear you or the story. Some probably change lanes to put some distance between you and them. Let’s face it; you are breaking the post-work commuter rules, so you might be dangerous.

This is one of those stories for me:

I’m going to do something unwise now that you have found this post. I’m going to tell you to click on the link and listen to the story, then come back. I know I’ll lose some of you, but I’m going to give out spoilers below, and I don’t want to ruin the story.


Thanks for coming back – wasn’t that worth it? Of course, some of you came back because you’re trying to figure out what on earth that story could have in common with Donald Trump.

I see a parallel between Chris McKinlay’s dating success after he reverse engineered OKCupid and Donald Trump’s success in the republican primary by essentially doing the same thing. Donald Trump reverse engineered the Republican electorate by exploiting a vulnerability in the party’s code. In this case, the code is not a computer program, but rather the direction the party was moving in order to improve its long-term viability.

The Republican Party realized that recent demographic changes, and those that are predicted, would spell trouble for the party without some significant changes. With non-white populations growing at a substantially faster rate than white ones, the Republican Party would need to get some of those non-whites to vote for them if they have any hope of electoral success in a decade or two. As a result of this analysis, the party made subtle shifts toward inclusion, while hoping to keep from angering the traditional Republican voter – older and whiter, and more male than female.

The way Donald Trump reverse engineered this presidential race, and especially the republican primary, was to emphasize the “reverse” part of the term. He promised to turn back time, so to speak. He promised to kick out or refuse to let in non-whites. He promised to bring back the type of jobs that white people held thirty years ago. He promised to stimulate the economy to grow at unprecedented rates by giving the rich a huge tax cut. He promised to make America great again. That would be “great again” for white people – non-whites didn’t have it very good in the “good old days.”

Chris McKinlay’s OKCupid project was different in one major way. Okay, two ways – he did extensive research and achieved scientifically-based results. Chris identified the group to which he felt the highest degree of affinity, and wrote an algorithm to identify which OKCupid questions he could answer truthfully to improve his chances of matching with members of that group.

There is a reason I bolded the word “truthfully.” I do not feel Donald Trump is truthful in his statements. PolitiFact reports that 70.1% of Trump’s claims are mostly false, false or “Pants on Fire,” versus 27.4% of Clinton’s. It does not appear that even his supporters believe his statements anymore. His comments that should rock the financial markets have no effect, and when asked pointed questions about Trump’s statements, his supporters seem more likely to tell the reporters that change is the reason they’re voting for Mr. Trump, not his promises.

There is one other parallel I see between Mr. McKinlay and Mr. Trump. Because of McKinlay’s high match percentages with his first dates from OKCupid, he had a difficult time getting them to accept his declaration that it wasn’t going to work out. He had to resort to extreme measures to shake them off. One of my laugh-out-loud moments was when he described how he would put on eyeliner then deny it to reduce the number of messages he got requesting a second date.

I see that extreme behavior in Mr. Trump and get the feeling that he really doesn’t want to win the election. In fact, we’ve hit a turning point where moving forward may damage the Trump Brand. That damage comes from his income tax situation. We already know that he reported a $916 million loss on his 1995 tax returns, and that gives the impression that he is not as good a businessman as he claims to be. We can also reasonably assume that he hasn’t paid federal income taxes for up to eighteen years from that one loss, and perhaps longer from other losses. That tarnishes the brand for many people because they are not entitled to use the same loopholes as Mr. Trump.

Additionally, if the business claims the Trump Brand is enhanced (value added) by the extravagant lifestyle enjoyed by the Trump family, they will probably consider those expenses to be business expenses, and not income received by Mr. Trump or his family. That means that they can spend tens of millions of dollars each year and none of the Trumps would have ordinary income to report. Thus, the Trumps would not be subject to individual income tax – federal, state or local – and this action could generate additional annual business losses to keep from paying any federal income tax in any year. I would assume that many taxpayers would not be happy with this arrangement because, once again, it will not be made available to them.

So, with potential damage to the Trump Brand happening now as a result of the presidential campaign, Mr. Trump may wish to shake off enough supporters to ensure he doesn’t win the election. Several commentators, and of course Hilary Clinton, have called Mr. Trump unhinged, or something similar, in recent weeks, and his behavior has indeed seemed odd. The middle of the night tweet attacks on Ms. Machado and his identifying vets who suffer from PTSD as “not as strong” look to me like Chris McKinlay’s eyeliner strategy. It appears as if Trump wants to lose in November.

And here’s the ironic part. If that is true, and Mr. Trump can get through the rest of this campaign while protecting the Trump Brand from additional harm, he can greatly improve the brand’s value as a private citizen simply by repeating how much better things would have been under his leadership. And in that way, he would actually be the great businessman he claims to be.

About tonyj126

I'm a 50+ married man who always seems to have a large backlog of work to do, but also a lot of flexibility in my schedule. Much of the work I do is volunteer or taking care of extended family members. I suffer from, as my priest calls it, "the sin of self-sufficiency," which means I can figure out how to do most things myself, and consequently, reduce the need for community to solve problems. As a logical extention (at least to me), I find myself called to comtemplate the country's and the world's woes and offer my observations. I hope someone out there will find them useful.
This entry was posted in Economics, Make America Great Series, U.S. Politics, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s