The United States has seen many great individuals assume the Presidency. It has also seen a number of very poor candidates. A few of those even made it into the Oval Office. However, none have ever been as politically inexperienced, naive, arrogant or unpresidential as Donald Trump. The idea that Trump will assume the position that Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, the Roosevelts, Kennedy or Reagan held is unfathomable. Like or dislike the Presidents listed, it is undeniable that they acted Presidential. That cannot be said about the vulgarities and simple ideas of Trump. Fortunately, there is very little chance that Donald Trump will be elected President.
Those who believe otherwise point to how Trump stormed to the nomination. It was an impressive campaign. Trump energized many voters. However, Trump did not dominate as thoroughly as other presidential candidates have done in the past. Until a group of mid-Atlantic states voted, the Trump nomination was iffy. While Trump likes to boast of his impressive vote totals, his numbers pale as a percentage to Mitt Romney or John McCain’s campaigns. In fact, Trump will get a lower percentage of the primary vote than any top vote-getter since Ronald Reagan had 38% in 1968.
Trump likes to claim that he has had a difficult task in the campaign because he had seventeen rivals. Actually, Trump is fortunate to have had so many opponents. The more there were, then the more that they split their votes. Trump was able to play off his celebrity status and maintain support of 20-25% for months as the frontrunner. The others split their bases whether it be christian conservatives, establishment candidates, economic conservatives and even libertarians. Trump did not have a base to split because he pulled together a disenchanted array of primarily white, male and lower middle class voters. Many of these supporters were marginal voters in that they often sat out elections. They kept Trump afloat as the rest of the field dissipated.
Again, Trump was fortunate. The establishment candidates remained split until it was too late to unify behind an alternative to Trump. The conservative Christians narrowed to one of the most disliked men in politics: Ted Cruz. The one candidate who appeared to have a chance, Marco Rubio, could never overcome a slick image that collapsed after a debate attack poked fun at his robotic performance, and he followed it up with an uncomfortable conversation about Trump’s hands.
Through it all, rarely did a candidate or the media challenge Trump. He was never vetted as other frontrunners have been, from Hillary Clinton and her emails to Barack Obama and his association with the Rev. Wright. Instead of a vetting, Trump kept the media off-balance with a stream of controversial comments. Instead of learning about Trump’s past or his platform, the media remained enchanted with his ludicrous comments. While many found Trump amusing, his supporters never wavered. Eventually, the joke became the presumptive nominee.
Now that Trump will become the nominee of a major party, he is unlikely to escape the scrutiny of the media, and, most definitely, the Democratic Party political action committees. Trump will soon be a major target. The media and his opponents will pry into this past, demand his tax returns and uncover every business dealing that he has ever attempted. For Clinton, the same road will not be as rough. Her past has been vetted with 25 years on the national political stage. Everyone knows all they need to know about her. All Clinton needs to do is get past the email investigation, and the rest of the race will be about Trump.
When a candidate becomes the major target of an election, that candidate’s numbers invariably drop. Unfortunately for Trump, his numbers are already low. The latest CNN/ORC poll has Clinton winning 54%-41%. Clinton has the support of 81% of non-white voters. The number will be even higher as many undecideds will break her way. Although minorities only number 30% of the electorate, it provides Clinton with an important base. With over 80% support in that demographic, the base is almost one-quarter of the vote or half of what she needs to get a popular majority. Even though whites make up nearly 70% of the electorate, Trump would have to capture well over 60% of the white vote to get a majority of the popular vote. Although the Republican Party has captured a majority of the white vote in every presidential election since 1976, only twice did a Republican candidate get to 60%. That was Bush with 60% against Dukakis in 1988, and Reagan with 66% against Mondale in 1984. It is very unlikely that Trump will achieve that. His support is currently in the low 50s. Trump fares especially bad with women. He loses them 2 to 1. Minorities and women, the two groups Trump has consistently slurred, oppose him by super-majorities. Trump is set for a monumental loss in November.
Trump is ill-prepared to run a general election Presidential campaign. His organization in the primaries was consistently outmaneuvered by Cruz’. Part of the reason is that Trump ran an extremely frugal campaign. He is sixth in fundraising among all the candidates, that includes placing lower than some who dropped out months ago. Even Ben Carson outraised Donald Trump. Trump’s take of $51.7 million is paltry compared to Clinton’s $262.7 million. Clinton has run a modern, expensive Presidential campaign. Trump coasted on media attention and now must raise money, build a campaign structure and rebuild his image for women and minority voters.
It isn’t likely. It may not even be possible.
Trump has enormously high negative ratings. Clinton does too. Neither is going to be able improve images that are nearly set in stone. Once the campaign rolls into full swing, the negativity will further damage the two. However, since Clinton already has a large lead, it appears that the American voters have a far more unfavorable image of Donald Trump than Hillary Clinton.
The polls are already showing usual Republican strongholds in competitive races. In Georgia, a reliable red state, Trump leads Clinton only 42%-41%. There are indications that other states like Texas, Alaska, Arizona, Montana, Utah, Mississippi and others could fall into the Democratic column in November if Trump slips even a bit. Trump may be able to sway some voters in traditional Democratic strongholds like Minnesota, Michigan and other states in the Midwest, but it doesn’t appear that he is able to sway enough.
While Trump is doing surprisingly poor in some Southern states, he is running very competitively in the Midwest. The most recent Quinnipiac poll has Trump and Clinton dead even in the swing states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida. It gives an indication of what Trump must do, if he can.
For Trump to win, he has to remake himself as a candidate who espouses diversity, respects women and can act presidential. We have yet to see that type of discipline and direction in Trump. Barring an October surprise of a terrorist attack, economic collapse or similar disaster, Trump appears likely to lose to Clinton badly. It is entirely possible that he could lose historically badly.
No one has seen Trump as anything but a frontrunner. As he stays mired at a double-digit deficit to Clinton, Trump is more likely to lash out. His propensity is to become more outlandish when things turn bad. Mark Salter, former campaign manager for John McCain in 2008, and now a Clinton supporter, summed it up:
“He’s going to lose, and I think he’s got kind of an unstable personality to begin with…I think he could come apart, you know, in some kind of visible way. I think that’s quite possible. … I’m not a psychiatrist, but there is something wrong with [the] guy.”
This strange election year is set for more of the bizarre, but it is likely to end with the country’s first woman President.