SURVEY SAYS

All of the questions on the survey Donald Trump just sent out to crowdsource advice for the second debate

Obsession
2016
Obsession
2016

For a guy whose whole persona is based on speaking his mind, taking requests via comment card is a pretty weird move.

But that’s exactly what Donald Trump has been doing to swot up for the presidential debates.

“I need your immediate feedback from the first debate in order to win the second one,” read an email from Trump’s campaign sent out on Wednesday, linking to a 30-question “Second Debate Preparation Survey” (we’ve reprinted all 30 questions below).

A different 30-question survey—”TRUMP Debate Preparation Survey“—went out on Sep. 21. via an email whose subject line read: “Help me prepare for the big debate.”

Taking debate tactic tips from the masses is a strategy whose wisdom seems best left to Team Trump to explain. (They haven’t responded to our request for comment at time of publishing). Amassing emails for their get-out-the-vote efforts is almost certainly part of it (you have to enter your email to submit your responses). So, probably, is drumming up campaign contributions.

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(Screenshot from https://donate.donaldjtrump.com/)

The surveys are also an easy way to rile Trump’s base up about issues without blanketing them with long emails. That’s maybe why some questions read more like reminders than contentious policy disputes (e.g. “Should Trump bring up the importance of not only the Supreme Court, but also the next president’s ability to appoint many federal judges?”)

Still, the surveys are curiously thorough, soliciting advice on everything which Hillary Clinton scandal to hammer on to “personal advice for Donald Trump for the next debate.” While many questions rephrase campaign slogans, others seem written genuinely to extract information.

(Screenshot from https://action.trump2016.com/debate-prep-survey/)

Also intriguing is the conspicuous shift in focus between the first and the second survey. Immigration is the case in point. Given that it’s Trump’s signature issue, it’s unsurprising that, on the pre-debate survey, “Illegal immigration” is the first option for the first question, and the issue appears in another question later on. It also appears prominently on a “Debate Survey” sent to Trump’s mobile-phone mailing list.

(Screenshot from https://action.trump2016.com/debate-prep-survey/)

However, the second survey, sent after the debate, mentions immigration not once, subbing in “Law and order” in its place. Other issues like “Social security/entitlements,” “Obamacare,” and “Protecting the life of the unborn,” are scrapped too.

(Screenshot from https://action.trump2016.com/debate-prep-survey/)

Then again, the second survey explores some themes neglected in the first—for instance: “Should Trump attack Hillary for referring to tens of millions of American men and women as ‘deplorables’?”

There’s also a change in tone. When talking about Clinton’s strategy, the questions in the first survey use muscular verbs like “force” and “attack.” The survey posted after the debate—at which Trump seemed roundly ill-prepared—has more of a evaluation vibe: four questions ask “should Trump have brought up” or “called out” Clinton on a certain issue.

A few questions are just plain baffling—for instance, the first survey’s request for topics to “address on the debate stage even if moderators fail to bring them up.” Even stranger, the second survey asks respondents, “Should Trump speak directly to the American voters at home and defend our positive message for America?”

It sounds faintly like the debate version of the “rigged election” theme—an insinuation that the moderators are all conspiring to muffle Trump’s message. Thanks to these surveys, at least Trump should now know what that message is.

Second Debate Preparation Survey

  1. Which issue do you think Mr. Trump was strongest on during the first debate?
    Fair trade
    Foreign policy
    Cutting taxes
    Reducing $19-trillion debt
    Job creation
    Law and order
    Other
  2. Which issue do you think Mr. Trump should focus more on in the next debate?
    Fair trade
    Foreign policy
    Cutting taxes
    Reducing $19-trillion debt
    Job creation
    Law and order
    Other, please specify:
  3. Should Trump call out Hillary for lying about her stance on the job-killing trade deal TPP during the first debate?
    Yes
    No
    No Opinion
    Other, please specify:
  4. Should Trump lay out how his business, private-sector experience will directly benefit the economy?
    Yes
    No
    No Opinion
    Other, please specify:
  5. Did you agree with Trump’s decision to call out Hillary for being in politics for 30 years and not accomplishing anything?
    Yes
    No
    No Opinion
    Other, please specify:
  6. On the subject of Hillary’s emails, should Trump have brought up the fact that Hillary jeopardized our national security?
    Yes
    No
    No Opinion
    Other, please specify:
  7. Should Trump have brought up the Clinton Foundation’s pay-to-play schemes?
    Yes
    No
    No Opinion
    Other, please specify:
  8. Should Trump have brought up Hillary’s failure in Benghazi as a disqualification for the presidency?
    Yes
    No
    No Opinion
    Other, please specify:
  9. Should Trump have called out Hillary’s massive Wall Street fundraising and the paid speeches that she refuses to release to the public?
    Yes
    No
    No Opinion
    Other, please specify:
  10. Should Trump attack Hillary as a life-long politician who has zero experience creating jobs?
    Yes
    No
    No Opinion
    Other, please specify:
  11. Should Trump call out Hillary for flip-flopping on NAFTA and TPP in an attempt to gain votes from Bernie’s supporters?
    Yes
    No
    No Opinion
    Other, please specify:
  12. Should Trump double down on the need to rebuild our infrastructure, and draw on his own experience in construction to get the job done?
    Yes
    No
    No Opinion
    Other, please specify:
  13. When discussing cybersecurity, should Trump bring up Hillary’s unsecured secret server left vulnerable to hackers?
    Yes
    No
    No Opinion
    Other, please specify:
  14. Should Trump address Hillary’s failure to take the threat of radical Islamic terrorism seriously?
    Yes
    No
    No Opinion
    Other, please specify:
  15. Should Trump talk about the importance of rebuilding our own country instead of nation-building abroad?
    Yes
    No
    No Opinion
    Other, please specify:
  16. Should Trump criticize Hillary’s tax hikes on the middle class as senator and plan to raise taxes as president?
    Yes
    No
    No Opinion
    Other, please specify:
  17. Should Trump paint Hillary as someone who has betrayed working-class policies in favor of Wall Street?
    Yes
    No
    No Opinion
    Other, please specify:
  18. Should Trump continue to tie Hillary to Obama’s failed policies including ObamaCare and the Iran Deal?
    Yes
    No
    No Opinion
    Other, please specify:
  19. Should Trump continue to promote his tax plan that will cut taxes in order to stimulate the economy for ALL Americans?
    Yes
    No
    No Opinion
    Other, please specify:
  20. Should Trump attack Hillary for referring to tens of millions of American men and women as “deplorables”?
    Yes
    No
    No Opinion
    Other, please specify:
  21. Should Trump bring up the importance of not only the Supreme Court, but also the next president’s ability to appoint many federal judges?
    Yes
    No
    No Opinion
    Other, please specify:
  22. Should Trump point to his history of employing thousands of Americans as evidence of his firsthand experience and ability to create jobs?
    Yes
    No
    No Opinion
    Other, please specify:
  23. Should Trump hammer Hillary on wanting to enact more of Obama’s regulations that have stunted the economy and prevented small businesses from growing or even starting up?
    Yes
    No
    No Opinion
    Other, please specify:
  24. Should Trump focus on Hillary’s proud claim to put a lot of coal miners out of business?
    Yes
    No
    No Opinion
    Other, please specify:
  25. Should Trump emphasize the importance of harnessing American energy in order to grow our economy and reduce the cost of gas at the pump?
    Yes
    No
    No Opinion
    Other, please specify:
  26. Should Trump spend more time articulating plans to rein in corruption in D.C.?
    Yes
    No
    No Opinion
    Other, please specify:
  27. Should Trump paint Hillary as the epitome of D.C. corruption and the close relationship between lobbyists and politicians?
    Yes
    No
    No Opinion
    Other, please specify:
  28. Should Trump accuse Hillary of representing everything that everyday Americans are worried about in Washington?
    Yes
    No
    No Opinion
    Other, please specify:
  29. Should Trump speak directly to the American voters at home and defend our positive message for America?
    Yes
    No
    No Opinion
    Other, please specify:
  30. Do you have any personal advice for Donald Trump for the next debate?
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