Serving as Townhall's de facto designated polling analyst has its ups and downs -- and the latter have far outpaced the former in recent weeks, and the drumbeat of negativity continues apace. It's no secret that I've opposed Trump from the beginning, but one of the primary reasons I did so in the primaries was because I feared that his nomination would hand an eminently winnable election to this lying, corrupt, unaccountable statist. Which is another way of saying that I take zero pleasure in constantly reporting data showing such a woman appearing to run away with an election that she so richly deserves to lose. Given the bleakness of the new Monmouth poll, the details of which I'll rehearse shortly, I feel compelled to at least begin this post with some rays of hope. First, despite the distressing public opinion trends, it is premature to declare anything settled at this stage of the contest. If you missed it yesterday, go back and read political analyst Amy Walter's column on what that's the case. Secondly, remember this jaw-dropping spending disparity between the Clinton and Trump campaigns? Buoyed in part to a fairly good fundraising month, Team Trump is reportedly getting around to looking into closing the gap and making some effort to compete. Many Republicans are practically begging for less mulling and more action here, but this may be a start, at least:
Also, from the "better late than never" file, the Trump campaign appears to be taking battleground ground game preparations more seriously than they were previously. They remain at a massive systemic disadvantage on this front, but mitigating the blowout is preferable to doing nothing. But speaking of blowouts, here we have our third national poll in the span of a week showing Hillary ahead by double digits:
Monmouth, as Allahpundit duly notes, owns an A+ rating within FiveThirtyEight's assessment rubric of pollsters' reliability and methodology. And given the recent McClatchy and Fox News findings, it's hard to shrug this off as an outlier. This series also measured a statistically-tied race prior to the conventions; Hillary's current lead represents an 11-point net swing in her direction. And alarmingly, she's ahead by 13 points among likely voters in a four-way race. The latter two factors have generally held down her margin. Not so here. Her large lead is attributable to many factors, including a base consolidation gap, and Trump getting brutalized among both white women with college degrees (a cohort Mitt Romney carried by six points) and racial minorities. But the inescapable dynamic undergirding the current state of play is quite simple: Large majorities of American voters believe Donald Trump fails to clear basic thresholds for the presidency. This has been an entirely foreseeable and potentially catastrophic issue all along. Now, via Monmouth's numbers, voila:
Over the last six months, he's made no statistical progress -- none -- in convincing the general electorate that he has the character and disposition to be worthy of the office he seeks. There's been quite a lot of chuckling about the elusiveness of his promised "presidential pivot," but Trump's inability to even come close to executing that needed adjustment is no laughing matter. It's a core reason behind his daunting deficit. It appears as though a lot of Americans have been sitting back and waiting to see if he might surprise them and give them a solid reason to withhold their vote from a woman they generally dislike and distrust. He's failed to thus far, so the rout is on -- which is why Democrats have put Georgia firmly in play, and why Paul Ryan suddenly seems a tad jittery about hanging onto the GOP House majority. I've spoken to several top-level Republican leaders who believe that their Senate majority can survive a narrow Trump loss, and that the House majority can endure in the face of a McCain-level Trump defeat. But a blowout at the top of the ticket potentially endangers the whole thing, they say. Trump needs to stop the bleeding and change the trajectory of this race not only for himself, but also for the sake of his entire adoptive party. To that end, I'll say it until I'm blue in the face: Even as the polling average fluctuates (which it likely will) over the next few months, perhaps the only opportunities Trump has to lastingly reverse these enormous problem lie in the debates -- especially the first one. Winging it on gut instincts and insult comedy amid a large cast of characters was enough to for Trump to "win" primary debates. He needs to be much sharper, much more prepared, and much more informed against Hillary.