For many months, I made two cases. First that under the right circumstances, Donald Trump could win the election and the second point was that Trump would be the weakest candidate with the least chance of winning this election against Hillary Clinton. As the summer progresses and we move toward the Cleveland convention, my forecast is proving true. Trump is sliding in the polls but Hillary Clinton is not gaining in the polls. Polls have Hillary advancing her lead against Trump. The key stat here is that Hillary Clinton is not gaining new voters since her numbers are in the low 40’s and never recovered from her own slump a month ago when she was at 50% before moving downward into her present territory.
Trump's own numbers are headed south, they are not heading into Clinton’s camp but into undecided or Gary Johnson who is now approaching 10%. Trump’s weakness is now on full parade as the strategy that worked in the primary is not working in the general election. Trump's disdain for the typical campaign including using pollsters, consultants and depending upon his own gut instinct, is showing its limitation along with his inability to truly unite the Republican Party. The biggest strength in Trump’s primary run is now his biggest weakness as he depended upon free press playing to his strength as a TV personality but now he is getting vetted in ways he did not in the primary by the media. His strategy of using free media in place of buying ads and putting a campaign team in the field is now in jeopardy as much of the media are talking about his negative. The one reality about the media is that most journalists are Democratic operatives with a byline and they are acting the part on behalf of Hillary Clinton.
The recent Orlando tragedy showed his weakness as a general election candidate. The mass murder by an ISIS agent should have easily worked in Trump’s favor and a more skilled politician would have taken advantage of this to play up Obama’s weakness on national security but instead, Trump's own performance was supported by only one fourth of the voters, allowing both Obama and Clinton to turned a terrorist attack into debate over gun control. It didn’t help when Trump stated that he wanted the NRA to consider Obama/Clinton proposal of denying guns to those on Obama’s terrorist watch. The leadership of the NRA has to be asking, did we make a serious mistake in endorsing Trump?
Trump's problem is that with no ground game, he has to depend upon the GOP's ground game to make up what he doesn’t have and he needs the GOP donor class for money but there are many who may not open up their wallets. Nor does it help that instead of a unified party at Cleveland, Trump may face a revolt and if he keeps slipping in the polls, or keeps making big mistakes on the campaign trails, many delegates will attempt to block him from nomination. Voters may see a Party in disarray and Trump goes into the election a wounded candidate. Add the Gary Johnson factor and suddenly the GOP is looking at election disaster that could cost the GOP not just the White House but both congressional houses.
Trump's road to victory was to expand the conservative majority and reach out into the Democratic base, but much of his strategy has done the complete opposite. He needs overwhelming support of white voters but in reviewing polls, he is averaging slightly over 50%; running behind Romney four years ago and with Johnson in the race, this complicates matters. He has managed to average in the low 20’s among Hispanics, and while there are polls showing Trump doing 15% among blacks, others have him lower than even Romney did in 2012. Right now, he is averaging 10 percent among blacks, and if he is able to consolidate both white voters and get enough blacks, he can win enough Midwest states along with Virginia to win the White House. If not, this will be a complete disaster of an election for the GOP.
The only saving grace is that Hillary Clinton is equally unlikable and most polls have not shown a Clinton surge, so Trump still has a chance. Republicans have to accept one fact: Trump is the weakest candidate they could put up against Clinton, but the good news is that the one Democrat that Trump can beat is Hillary Clinton.