It was the best of times; it was the worst of times…
Luckily for Donald Trump, the current time matters less than the future. But the future is coming fast, and right now it does not look good for him.
Polls since the Republican and Democratic conventions show him slipping toward a Mondale-level defeat. A Marist poll released Thursday showed Hillary Clinton pummeling him by 15 points, 48-33. In a four-way race, with Libertarian and Green candidates in the mix, the result is just as bad, 45-31.
Actually, that’s unfair…to Mondale, who at least got 40 percent of the popular vote.
No matter how angry Sean Hannity gets, it won’t make Donald Trump a better candidate. It won’t make Trump able to articulate a clear vision for the country (by himself, not through Hannity “clarifying” for him). It won’t give him the ability to string together a coherent sentence without venturing off on unrelated tangents.
In other words, if Donald Trump is going to mount a serious, or at least respectable, bid for the White House this fall, he and his super-fans are going to have to realize an important truth: The general election ain’t the primary.
In the primary it is easy to be a little crazy, to say absurdist things to get attention and hoover up the oxygen of media coverage. It’s always worked, to one degree or another, though not as well as it did for Trump. But the primary election is not the general election.
You are appealing to a tiny slice of the general public in a primary, a self-selecting group of people who care enough to support a candidate from a large field and go vote for them when no elected office is being won.
Yes, Donald Trump got more votes than anyone ever in a Republican primary, but Hillary got more votes than he did. She ran against a smaller field, but her victory was a foregone conclusion for much of primary season, so there wasn’t the urgency to vote for her in primaries that there was for Trump.
Second, Trump didn’t win a majority of GOP voters. He and his supporters act as though they crushed the field, and they did on an individual basis. Zero, if not negative, effort has been expended by Trump to attract support from his former opponents or their supporters. Simply being the Republican nominee is enough for some voters, but he needs more than just those voters. So treating their support as unnecessary or unwanted, as he has done, is incredibly self-destructive.
If Trump is half the dealmaker he claims to be, why hasn’t he been able to make a deal for full-throated support from at least some of this top challengers? Yes, he is the nominee, but he needs them much more than they need him because he’s the one on the ballot in November.
Finally, team Trump thinks vote percentages in the primary matter in the general. Trump and his children have been deluding themselves by publicly talking about possibly putting deep blue states such as California and New York in play. This is as suicidal as it is crazy.
Team Trump thinks the margin of victory in a primary will somehow translate to the general … that winning Hispanics in the GOP primary means they’ll automatically do well in November. This is insanity – and malpractice if his campaign team hasn’t explained to him why it’s insane.
If 10 Hispanics vote in the GOP primary in, say, Florida, and Trump wins votes from seven of them, he would have won 70 percent of the Hispanic vote in that primary election. An impressive number if you view it as a percentage. Trump acts as though that matters, like it will morph into something similar in the general. It won’t.
Right now Trump is pulling 13 percent of the Hispanic vote in Florida. That means in the above hypothetical, he’s still pretty much getting the votes from just those seven people. Only there are more than a million Hispanics in Florida. This isn’t just a recipe for disaster; it’s cooking with cyanide.
Trump has indicated he acknowledges this and he’s about to change, but we’re heard this song before. As his support craters, it’s going to take more than words to win support.
He has to ask; he has to listen; he has to stay on point; he has to offer a vision; but most importantly he has to mean it.
For some weird reason, rather than spend the last few weeks solidifying (as much as possible) his own party, Trump has focused more on reaching out to disillusioned Bernie Sanders supporters. First and foremost, Sanders voters are insane leftists with deep contempt for this country and concept of liberty.
They’re protectionist on trade, which is not popular at all among Republicans. So he’s been selling something that alienates voters he desperately needs for voters he’ll never get. Whoever advised him to take this action should be fired yesterday.
The current polls are unambiguous: Hillary got a good bump coming out of Philadelphia. But that’s only half the story. After a small pop out of Cleveland, Donald Trump hit the ground and has spent a lot of time digging. If he doesn’t throw down the shovel now, the whole campaign is going to go “splat.”