You heard me.

Before 2016, I would have said America’s greatest brand was Coca-Cola. But this election cycle has changed my mind. Here’s what marketing gurus ought to do. Elect a president who sets off a civil war, wins it, and gets killed. Let simmer for 150 years. Presto: best brand ever.

Donald Trump is going to win at least 20 states, probably 24. That is not a typo. Read it again. Here’s the snapshot from everyone’s favorite site today, October 28:

screen-shot-2016-10-28-at-8-38-00-am

In 1972, official Democratic Party nominee George McGovern won one state. One. In 1984, official Democratic Party nominee Walter Mondale won one state. One. Trump will do 20x better than either of them. And it’s partly because he was smart enough to rent the Republican party for 18 months run as a Republican and not as the independent he really is.

Here is a map of the 2012 election results by county. Yes, cities love Obama. The country, not so much.

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As of now, October 2016, Republicans control both the governor’s mansion and legislature in 24 states, 70 of the nation’s 99 state legislative chambers, both chambers in 30 states, plus Nebraska’s single chamber, and 31 governor’s mansions. Let that sink in for a minute, gleeful Democrats. While you’re distracted by the shiny object of the White House, your Republican cousins have been doing the hard work of organizing for small victories in small places around the country. Might want to notice that.

Any Democrat waking up on November 9th should be careful before he/she gloats too much about President-elect Hillary Clinton. The Republicans will still have enough Senators to filibuster anything, including Supreme Court justices. The House will still be controlled by Trump’s party.

If the GOP stands for Freedom, then one way of interpreting 2016 is that Americans continue to Let Freedom Ring.

Why does the Republican brand do so well? One reason is that Democrats still permit Thomas Nast to rule the imagery, even though he died 114 years ago. Nast invented elephants for Republicans and donkeys for Democrats because he was…guess what?…a Republican! But the main reason is that the GOP maintains its “anti” flavor while actually being “pro,” kind of like the Rolling Stones or Apple. It positions itself as David versus the Goliath of big government, so it reminds everyone how great it is every time they get an electric/water bill or pay a sales tax or hear the media blah-blah with liberal bias. Talk about saturation branding!

Lots of pundits, including David Brooks today, are talking about the “ruination of the Republican Party.” Poppycock. Trump has occasioned a little internecine squabble, that’s all.

Well, okay, perhaps he’s done more than that. But Trump is a bit of a Rorschacht test, where people read what they want to read. When I see how different he is from any previous candidate to hold office…

(I already wrote about this, here’s the Cliff Notes version:

A. Actual outsider against politicians

B. Bible-averse behavior

C. Constitution-averse conduct

D. Disrespect for decorum

E. Evidently against evidence

F. Flirtation with fascism

G. Global affairs ignorance

H. Hoax hatred on climate change

I. Initially independent financing

J. Jejune on jobs

K. Killer of K-street consensus on free trade

L. Legions of lousy lawsuits

M. Military mishmash patriotism

N. Nutty nativism

O. Obstinate opacity on tax returns

P. Pretend populism

Q. Querulous questioning of both Dems and GOP

R.“Rigging” rumbling

S. Shameless sexism

T. TV-star, Twitter-orientation

U. Unprecedentedly Un-PC on Mexicans, Muslims, etc

V. Vilifying opponents, violence-inciting

W. World-champ whopper-teller

X. X-ceptional belief in X-traordinary theories

Y. Years of “yes” to opposing party, Dems

Z. Zaniness)

…and then reflect that he’s going to win half of these United States anyway, I have to say: WOW, that Republican brand knows how to hold on. It would be like if CBS put Bill Cosby on the air now and remained the #1 network. You’d say: damn, I guess CBS could shoot someone in the middle of Times Square and not lose any votes.

To return to the Coca-Cola analogy, Trump really is New Coke. A slight misstep, perhaps, but the brand can take the hit, and later act like it was a tent-expander.

In fairness to Brooks, he ends that article by suggesting that the Republican Party will emerge stronger from this election, and he’s probably right.

As much as I’ve spent the last three years on this blog railing against the two-party duopoly, I still see things clearly. And clearly, anti-duopolists like myself have a lot of work to do, particularly at the state and local level I just spoke about.

So I haven’t changed my mind: millennials are sick of “legacy brands” in all areas. But…the Republicans built a mighty one over 160 years. Destroying it will take a lot more than Donald Trump.

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