Why Is Trump Campaigning in Texas and Mississippi?

Guy Benson
|
Posted: Aug 24, 2016 10:16 AM
Why Is Trump Campaigning in Texas and Mississippi?

Short answer: He's fundraising, but he's also losing this race, and he knows it. Sure, he's trailed in the RCP average for months -- with the exception of a very brief post-RNC blip -- so that's not exactly news.  But over the ensuing weeks, we've seen some of his loyalists dismissing, "unskewing" or even straight-up denying the polls. He's gonna win, they confidently assert, occasionally citing some quasi-plausible explanation or another.  In reality, however, the theory that Trump would unlock states that have been closed to GOP presidential candidates for decades lies in shreds.  Like it or not, has one narrow road to the White House, a prerequisite for which is locking down every state Mitt Romney carried four years ago.  With states like Missouri, Indiana, North Carolina, Georgia, and possibly others in play this cycle, Trump faces a serious challenge.  But shouldn't ruby red states like Texas and Mississippi, for crying out loud, be slam dunks for him?  One would think so, and polling seems to bear that out, even as the margins are too close for comfort in some polls.  And yet:

It's true that he's rattling the cash cup in both places, but a presidential nominee's time is a precious commodity.  When a candidate needs to fill his or her campaign's coffers by tapping donors from non-competitive areas, he'll typically parachute in very briefly, then quickly return to the trail.  Exceptions to this rule are rare, like this smart move by the GOP ticket.  Trump has either decided to stick with his inefficient and, frankly, stupid plan to hold big rallies everywhere he goes, or his team -- now led by an experienced pollster -- has determined that it's actually worth his while to exploit local coverage in these reliably Republican states.  If the Trump campaign has any inkling that either Texas or Mississippi might be close, it's already game over, rendering analyses like this purely academic.  But if there's a heavy dash for the former explanation at play here, donors and supporters alike should demand to know why the candidate is spending valuable hours in places other than, say, Pennsylvania (where he's trailed by double digits in the last four mainstream statewide polls), or Florida.  And speaking of the must-win Sunshine State:

That poll reeks of outlier status, but the average of the last three surveys of Florida gives Hillary a nine-point lead there.  If Florida really is slipping away, that's a "catastrophe" siren for the Trump folks. Plus, there are other reasons why the poll in question may not be as outlier-ish as it seems at first blush.  Meanwhile, latest numbers out of Virginia are also hideous, as are the last two national surveys, which put her in front by eight and 12 points, respectively.  It's long past triage time, which is why devoting any resources in "safe" states, beyond hyper-efficient fundraising efforts, is foolish.  Since I've fed you a steady diet of polling broccoli in this post, I feel obligated to include some strong evidence that even though Trump is quite weak there, Donald Trump does not appear to be in danger of dropping Utah.  Why?  Hillary Clinton is hilariously unpopular in the state, suggesting that her campaign's splashy announcement that they're opening up a Salt Lake City office is little more than a psychological feint.  I'll leave you with Trump's number one fan reacting...not well to the news that the object of her affection appears to be dramatically softening his stance on immigration, going so far as to praise Barack Obama (!) and George Bush as effective guardians of the border: