Maybe Trump should just give it to Pence. That’s what The Wall Street Journal thinks should happen if the Republican nominee is unable to get his act together by Labor Day. The scathing piece from the publication’s editorial board noted that Trump opts to watch cable news rather read the security briefs, refuses to get focused on the issues at hand, and rages against a crooked media, which has always rooted for the Republican in a national election, no matter what year, to lose. In short, it was a quit complaining, start studying, or hand it over to your running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, to avert total disaster:
The latest stories comport with what we also hear from sources close to the Trump campaign. Mr. Trump’s advisers and his family want the candidate to deliver a consistent message making the case for change. They’d like him to be disciplined. They want him to focus on growing the economy and raising incomes and fighting terrorism.
They think he should make the election a referendum on Hillary Clinton, not on himself. And they’d like him to spend a little time each day—a half hour even—studying the issues he’ll need to understand if he becomes President.
Is that so hard? Apparently so. Mr. Trump prefers to watch the cable shows rather than read a briefing paper. He thinks the same shoot-from-the-lip style that won over a plurality of GOP primary voters can persuade other Republicans and independents who worry if he has the temperament to be Commander in Chief.
He also thinks the crowds at his campaign rallies are a substitute for the lack of a field organization and digital turnout strategy. And he thinks that Twitter and social media can make up for being outspent $100 million to zero in battleground states.
By now it should be obvious that none of this is working.
Those who sold Mr. Trump to GOP voters as the man who could defeat Hillary Clinton now face a moment of truth. Chris Christie, Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, Paul Manafort and the talk-radio right told Republicans their man could rise to the occasion.
If they can’t get Mr. Trump to change his act by Labor Day, the GOP will have no choice but to write off the nominee as hopeless and focus on salvaging the Senate and House and other down-ballot races. As for Mr. Trump, he needs to stop blaming everyone else and decide if he wants to behave like someone who wants to be President—or turn the nomination over to Mike Pence.
After the Republican National Convention, Trump seemed to have carved out a path to victory. FiveThirtyEight noted in mid-July that if the election were held then, Trump would win. That’s totally collapsed in two weeks. Today, Chris Cillizza noted that even if Clinton were to lose all the states they have listed as toss-ups–Ohio, Iowa, New Hampshire, Georgia, Nevada, and Florida–Clinton would still win.
A look at the electoral map makes plain just how narrow Trump's path really is — and how badly it has eroded over the last month. Here's what our map look liked in early July: That map gave Clinton 201 electoral votes to 158 for Trump. Another 105 electoral votes were "toss-ups" while 33 were rated "lean Republican" and 41 "lean Democratic."
Here's where our map stands today:
This new map gives Clinton 273 electoral votes to Trump's 175, meaning she wins the White House even if she loses all six of the states we currently rate as "toss-ups," which are marked in gray.
Right now, it doesn’t look like there will be any turnaround, as Trump campaigned in the deep-blue, never going to win state of Connecticut. In neighboring New York, where the billionaire said he could win and expand the map—he’s trailing Clinton by 30 points.
So, what happens when Labor Day arrives? Trump is certainly not going to just hand over something he’s spent time and energy winning over the past year. Allahpundit noted that there’s no way Trump will take the Bob Dole role of 1996 in making sure the down ballot races aren’t impacted by a probably landslide loss. Citing Lowry, AP noted that the RNC really couldn’t pull the plug and have this bull in a china closet candidate complain about rigged elections, and a possible boycott, that could depress turnout and wipe out Republicans down ticket. Citing the National Review’s Rich Lowry, if Trump is down 12 points on Labor Day, the entire GOP ticket across the country at most levels should brace for disaster, so why make it worse by cutting off funding to Trump:
Per Politico, RNC officials have been whispering to reporters since the convention that the party’s done more financially and organizationally for Trump than it did for Mitt Romney, an obvious attempt to pre-spin the decision to cut Trump loose if and when that becomes necessary.
The major problem with cutting Trump loose isn’t money. The major problem, as Lowry notes, is morale.
It’s worse than Lowry suggests. Not only would Trump refuse to be a good soldier for the RNC by continuing to fundraise for them after they’ve given up on his race, there’s a nonzero chance he would turn on the party and its Senate candidates before the election and begin actively damaging them. The weak form of him doing that would be pronouncing that the election is hopelessly rigged and therefore the only way to properly protest is to boycott voting in it. That would be Trump’s way of saving face if the outcome looks like a landslide; he and his fans would claim later after the landslide happens that it would have been close if not for their boycott — and meanwhile, Republicans downballot would be wiped out, including possibly in the House depending upon how many Trump fans stayed home. The strong form of him wrecking the party would be publicly blaming the RNC and disloyal Republicans like Ted Cruz for his pitiful polling and encouraging his voters to punish them, either by refusing to vote in downballot races or by actively voting for Democrats. I doubt Trump’s pique at his predicament will get quite that bad but there’s no doubt that this guy will spend most of his energy trying to shift blame for his defeat if/when he finally concludes that the race is lost. As such, considering how much potential damage he could do to congressional races, the RNC really has no choice but to stick with him and keep funneling money into his campaign to keep him happy.
You can’t always get what you want. And Trump could’ve been stopped if the rest of the field took him seriously from the get-go—and they didn’t. The time for Monday morning quarterback this 2016 primary is over. Trump is the nominee, and he’s losing. Let’s hope Trump’s hatred at losing forces him to undertake this turnaround as we’re less than 90 days from zero hour.