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Mats Holgersson, Senior Manager


Consenec Impuls: In the Sign of Donald Trump

2019-11-11 – Will US president Donald Trump win re-election next year? On 6 November, Consenec invited Swiss television news anchor and former US correspondent Arthur Honegger to speak on Donald Trump’s chances at another four years in the White House.

Donald Trump polarizes. And although he generally triggers aversion in Europe, the US president certainly knows how to capture attention – as proven by the large audience that came to the latest Consenec Impuls* event to hear Arthur Honegger’s presentation “USA 2020: What’s next America?” Of course, the speaker was also a draw: Honegger is currently anchor on the late evening news program “10vor10” and was previously US correspondent for Swiss television.

New Consenec CEO
The event began with a welcome address by new Consenec CEO Ingo Fritschi, who succeeded Renato Merz on 1 November 2019. Fritschi recalled being invited to an election-day party by the US Ambassador to Switzerland on the occasion of the 2016 US presidential election. Fritschi declined the invitation, not least because the outcome was clear: Hilary Clinton would prevail and become the first female president of the world’s most powerful country. To the amazement – and consternation – of many, the result was very different.

Ingo Fritschi, former head of technical school libs, hosted his first Consenec Impuls event.

Four more years of Trump?
Will the outcome be the same next year? Can the most unconventional president in US history win re-election and retain the ability to put his mark on world affairs for another four years? It’s a question many people are asking. Trump’s polling numbers are currently rather low, but this was also the case before the 2016 election. Honegger stressed that it’s also hard to predict what will happen between now and the election on 5 November 2020.

Impeachment: an unlikely scenario
Who Trump’s challenger will be has not yet been decided – nor is it clear the president will be able to stand for re-election. Honegger, however, is fairly certain that the impeachment proceedings won’t lead to Trump’s removal from office. The Republican Party holds the majority in the Senate and, under pressure from Trump’s large loyal base, it’s unlikely that enough senators will vote to impeach the president – regardless of what the impeachment hearings reveal.

Arthur Honegger – and an unmistakable silhouette.

The flaws of the most promising opponent
While some observers believe that the moderate Joe Biden has the best chance against Trump, Honegger pointed to Biden’s age and his uninspired slogan, “Make America Normal Again” – although “normal” has perhaps become uncommonly desirable in the face of Trump’s impulsive showmanship. “Americans are in general fascinated by the novel, by change, by new beginnings,” said Honegger. This way of thinking naturally also played a role in electing both Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

Female president in 2020?
Candidate Bernie Sanders is promising more than change: he’s calling for a real revolution. But Honegger said that the Sanders agenda is too ideological and too far left to find a majority of voters. Politically, Elizabeth Warren stands between Biden and Sanders, but she can only be considered moderate in a Democratic Party that has on the whole moved to the left. Nevertheless, it shouldn’t be ruled out that Warren could become America’s first female president.

Two percent more votes falls short of the mark
Honegger emphasized that it isn’t enough for a candidate to win a majority of all votes. In 2016, nearly three million more voters preferred Hilary Clinton to Donald Trump – a number that corresponds to over two percent of all voters. But the electoral college – which actually elects the president – lends more weight to states with lower populations. In sparsely populated, conservative Wyoming, for instance, the state’s three electors each represent roughly 190,000 residents, whereas in progressive California with its huge population, each of the 55 electors represents some 680,000 Californians. In addition, most states have a “winner-take-all” system, meaning the winning candidate in a given state receives all the electoral votes.

The auditorium at the ABB Research Center in Dättwil filling up before the event.

Three states as king-makers
The democratic-political consequence of the electoral college is that, in fairly even races like that of 2016, a relatively small number of voters in the so-called swing states determine who will be president of the most powerful nation in the world. “Pay attention to Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin,” was Honegger’s prediction – the next election will most likely be decided in those three states.

A difference of just 0.035 percent
2016. In the end, she lacked a total of just 77,000 votes – and that in a country with a voting population of some 220 million. As such, it was 0.035 percent of the voters who tipped the scales and sent Donald Trump to the White House. Arthur Honegger ended his talk with the following words: “Whether Trump will be voted out also depends on whether the Democratic Party nominates the candidate who can best mobilize voters in the key states.”

*About Consenec
Consenec is a consulting firm that hires former top managers from its founding companies: ABB, General Electric, Bombardier, and Ansaldo. Upon reaching the age of 60, executives from these companies transfer from their original position and company to Consenec Ltd. The Consenec model was developed by ABB Switzerland in 1993 with the goal of rejuvenating upper management while retaining the former executives’ wealth of knowledge.

“Consenec Impuls” is a lecture series that provides a platform for continuing education, networking, and professional dialogue.