Trump Aide to RNC Elites: Don't Worry, This is All an Act

Posted: Apr 22, 2016 10:15 AM

I'll get to Paul Manafort's eyebrow-raising comments in a moment, but first, here's a fresh polling note out of Live Free or Die country.  If various surveys are accurate and Trump's even remotely in danger of losing ruby red states like Mississippi and Utah, it would follow that he'd be getting absolutely roasted in purpler swing states.  A new WMUR New Hampshire poll appears to confirm that yes, Trump promises to be electoral poison for the GOP in the fall if he's the nominee -- which is the point Ted Cruz's new web ad tries to drive home. Whenever I beat the drum on Trump's horrific general election polling (which I do practically every day, with gusto), Trump's followers often respond with some variation of, oh yeah, well why does he keep winning? At which point, I attempt to patiently explain that there's a very important distinction between the "primary electorate" -- among whom this weak frontrunner is still short of 40 percent support, by the way -- and the "general electorate," which will determine who the next president is. This polling series correctly predicted a Trump victory in February's New Hampshire primary, with its last two surveys projecting a 15 and 16 point lead. Trump ended up dominating, winning 35 percent of the vote and beating his closest challenger by 19 points. New Hampshire was Trump Country. That was then, among that group of voters. This is now, among a much broader swath of New Hampshirites. Brutal:

Trump's favorable/unfavorable rating in the battleground state is underwater by 54 points (21/75), far worse than the also-unpopular Hillary Clinton's (38/58). Remember, Bernie Sanders crushed Hillary in New Hampshire's Democratic primary. But that residual hostility would evaporate against the radioactive Trump, who'd lose to Sanders by an even wider margin, according to the poll. And take a look at this trend line:

He's falling father behind, not gaining on her, which is one of the reasons his 'Reagan 1980' fairy tale comparison fails.  Trump fans will likely hasten to point that Ted Cruz's standing on favorability and head-to-head with Hillary isn't much better than Trump's in this survey, which is true. But it is better on both counts. John Kasich, who has lost every nominating contest in every state but his own, is the only remaining Republican with a positive image in New Hampshire, where he leads Clinton by 14 points.  Meanwhile, here's Paul Manafort -- the man Trump (smartly, if belatedly) brought on to try to salvage his smoldering delegate chase operation -- privately assuring RNC officials the boorish ignoramus with whom America has become re-acquainted in recent months is merely presenting a facade to the world.  The schtick is an artifice.  The real Trump is much more sober-minded and serious than the character he's been playing for the masses, you see:

Hmm.  If Trump's been playacting, he's been doing so for a long time.  The guy's been a celebrity for decades at this stage, and everything he's done in this campaign more or less aligns with how he's comported himself throughout his adult life -- minus his recent unconvincing "conversion" to conservatism.  The way he behaves both behind closed doors and in public hasn't changed.  The high-minded, "better" Trump doesn't exist.  On the off-chance that it does, someone better get this man a lifetime achievement Oscar, stat.  Incidentally, will the Trump cult of personality care one wit that his campaign's new spin is that he's playing his current fanbase as fools?  Probably not; Trump deliberately cultivates a very specific type of follower.  I'll leave you with this:

The feeling is most assuredly mutual.