Last summer, Donald Trump started his campaign with a bang. Viewed then as a loony outsider, Trump burst on to the scene when voters took to his signature brash tone and “tell it like it is” populist message. Whether it be calling Mexican immigrants rapists, championing a ban on Muslims entering the US, or his naive insistence that Mexico will pay for a border wall–Trump did what he had to do to get the attention and support needed to take his fringe campaign mainstream.
Last month, the campaign reached new heights when Trump accepted the Republican nomination for President of the United States. Against all odds, Donald Trump’s primary strategy worked. He single-handedly dismantled one of the deepest benches in recent memory to become the GOP nominee. It’s truly an awe-inspiring accomplishment. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that the same tactics Trump used to win the nomination will cost him the presidency.
This is certainly not something his supporters want to hear, and I seriously doubt they will believe it. After all, these are people who are delusional enough to believe that Trump will actually build a wall, and (even more embarrassingly) that Mexico will pay for it. Regardless of their willful ignorance, the Trump embarrassment is one that is not going away–he is the Republican nominee, and no one is taking that away from him.
Trump critics have always claimed that he is incapable of winning a general election battle against the Democratic Party nominee, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and though many have condemned his critics for refusing to fall in line with the campaign, history will be their vindicator. Poll after poll shows that Trump is the most disliked candidate in American history, and FiveThirtyEight.com has his chances of winning in November at a mere 16.8%.
Despite the fact that his campaign has known of these challenges from the beginning, Trump has been unable to win over his own Party, much less the necessary independent voters needed to actually win in November. Having insulted his way to the convention, Trump is currently in a place where even the most favorable polls show that an unprecedented 17% of the Republican electorate is refusing to back him. For comparison, Hillary is currently getting the support of 92% of Democratic voters.
Voters are turning to non-traditional options as conscience votes. Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson is receiving the support of 23% of voters under 30, and Johnson could make the presidential debates. Just today, news broke that former Republican House of Representatives chief policy director, Evan McMullin, will run for president as an independent. McMullin’s candidacy is even more of an outside shot than Johnson’s, but it could play a pivotal role in fiercely anti-Trump Utah.
While the Trump campaign will tell you that the candidate is bringing new voters into the campaign and can win despite the detractors in his own party, they offer little to no evidence to support it. They point to the fact that Trump received the most votes in Republican primary history as proof, but ignore the fact that this primary campaign also set a record for having the most votes cast for candidates other than the winner. They ignore the fact that the most recent polls are showing Trump getting shellacked in usually solid Republican states like Georgia. Can anyone be so naive as to believe that he has the ability to redraw the map in a way that would allow him to lose Georgia and still win?
Trump’s nationalistic populism and economic protectionism appeals to Bernie Sanders supporters, but his refusal to drop the rhetoric that helped him win the nomination is making his pitch to those voters an impossibly difficult one. Trump has been completely unwilling to “pivot” to the general election, a move that those who crave a “politically incorrect” candidate love, but one that only further alienates independents and hurts his chances in November. Candidates usually shift their focus to courting moderate and independent voters after winning their Party’s nomination, but Trump has only doubled down on his offensive and incendiary comments.
The campaign has promised on numerous occasions that the candidate will begin to shift his rhetoric only to be followed by more stubborn and ignorant statements from Trump himself. Whether it be taking on a gold star family, cozying up to Vladimir Putin, or continuing to sound entirely uninformed on issues of great importance, Donald has done nothing to heal the wounds of the GOP primary fight and nothing to expand his base. This is either the worst campaign strategy of all time, Trump is not playing to win, or the billionaire businessman is simply unable to control himself.
I am not sure how anyone can characterize this campaign as being headed in the right direction. Trump has done irreparable damage to the conservative movement, and his incompetence will crown a second President Clinton. It is pretty clear that Trump-Pence 2016 will go down in history as a dumpster fire campaign so pitiful it rivals those of Mike Dukakis and Walter Mondale. These are dark days for the Republican Party.