Donald Trump will start his 2016 battle against Hillary Clinton by trailing her by double-digits in the polls and a projected Electoral College wipeout thus far. Now that he’s the presumptive nominee, the Cook Political Report had moved 11 states towards the Democrats (the Hill):
“This has been an exceedingly unpredictable year,” the analyst said. “Although we remain convinced that Hillary Clinton is very vulnerable and would probably lose to most other Republicans, Donald Trump's historic unpopularity with wide swaths of the electorate — women, millennials, independents and Latinos — make him the initial November underdog.”
Colorado, Florida, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin were all shifted from toss-up states to leaning Democratic. The “solid Republican” states Missouri and Indiana were downgraded to “likely Republican.” New Mexico is now solidly Democratic, and North Carolina is a toss-up after leaning Republican.
This is quite a hole for the presumptive Republican nominee, but not one that is impossible to dig out of when it comes to the general. Trump’s biggest claim is that he can bring states that haven’t gone Republican in decades over to him. He’s talking about Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan, yet there’s doubt as to whether the billionaire can cobble together enough votes to win these states, especially when some, like Pennsylvania, have a million more registered Democrats than Republican voters. The Hill added that both Clinton and Trump need united parties to clinch victory in November, though most of that work is saddled with Republicans. There’s also Trump’s choice for vice president, which may be the only way he could mend the divisions within the party.
Nevertheless, every metric says Trump is toast, though he has defied expectations since he announced his intention to run last summer. Trump has time on his side to fix these problems, as Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders continue to duke it out. Second, “crooked Hillary,” Trump’s nickname for Clinton, should resonate well with Republican and Democratic voters. Sanders’ people feel the same way about her, as does a large portion of the electorate. Hogan Gidley, Mike Huckabee’s former communications director, said this is one of the best lines of attack against Clinton. And the more she refuses to releases things, like her Goldman Sachs transcripts, the more effective this could become on the stump.
Bill Clinton seems to be one of the few significant figures on the left, if not the only person, who is warning against dismissing Trump. As The New York Times reported in February, he feels that this may not be the walk in the park:
Several Democrats argued that Mrs. Clinton, should she be her party’s nominee, would easily beat Mr. Trump. They were confident that his incendiary remarks about immigrants, women and Muslims would make him unacceptable to many Americans. They had faith that the growing electoral power of black, Hispanic and female voters would deliver a Clinton landslide if he were the Republican nominee.
But others, including former President Bill Clinton, dismissed those conclusions as denial. They said that Mr. Trump clearly had a keen sense of the electorate’s mood and that only a concerted campaign portraying him as dangerous and bigoted would win what both Clintons believe will be a close November election.
During Bill Maher’s Real Time, Reason’s Nick Gillespie did lay into both political establishments, hoped the Republican Party imploded, mocked the positions of Trump, but added that he knows how to work the media in the sense that there needs to be a new episode every week. There will be something new, and it remains to be seen if the Clinton camp can adapt like Trump can—like he’s demonstrated pervasively during the primary. He said that this could be one of the most entertaining campaigns of all time.
Fasten your seatbelts, folks.