So the conventions are now over and we are finally starting the general election with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump having both officially secured their respective party’s nominations. Now is an interesting time to take a look at this race to try and evaluate where things stand.
Looking at the conventions, most all observers feel that the Democratic Convention's smoothly orchestrated lineup of high impact speakers from Bernie Sanders to Michelle Obama to President Obama, Bill Clinton and finally climaxing with Hillary herself made a much better presentation to the electorate than the Republican Convention which was without many of their stars who opted to stay home rather than be forced to do an endorsement speech for The Donald. In fact, the major anticipated endorsement speech from Ted Cruz surprisingly turned out to be an embarrassing non-endorsement speech. And Clinton has indeed benefited from a post-convention bounce in her poll numbers to open a lead over Trump.
Most political observers are still amazed that Trump has gotten this far in the presidential race considering that his arsenal seems to consist of little more than attracting attention by saying and doing outrageous things. Substance on issues just isn’t his thing.
Although this behavior has led even many Republican politicians and conservative pundits to abandon him, the more outrageous his behavior, the more his followers seem to be inspired. And the media just can’t take its eyes off of him, providing seemingly non stop free coverage of his campaign, wondering what he is going to say or do next.
But being outrageous to attract attention is inherently self-limiting. What used to be shocking loses its punch as we become numb to it all. The only option is to up the ante by being even more outrageous and risk alienating more voters. Indeed, one of his most recent incidents had him publicly inviting the Russians to dig up some of Hillary’s still missing E-mails (although he belatedly claimed this was meant to be sarcasm, this argument doesn't hold water).
Most recently, he belittled the Muslim parents who told their heartbreaking story during the Democratic Convention of their sacrifice in losing their son fighting for America. This exchange between Trump and the parents has been universally condemned and may be inflicting major damage on the campaign. Has he finally gone too far this time? If not this time, will it maybe be next time?
And then there is that ticking time bomb in his tax returns he has so far refused to release despite repeated requests. Does he have something to hide?
While Trump's lack of substance on issues didn’t hurt much in debating his fellow Republicans, Hillary Clinton is a very skilled and experienced debater who not only has a strong command of the issues but may be able to get under The Donald's skin and throw him off his game. The debates start in late September. This will definitely be must see TV!
But finally, and most importantly, his path to obtaining enough electoral votes to secure victory is an increasingly narrow one.
Even as Mr. Trump has ticked up in national polls in recent weeks, senior Republicans say his path to the 270 Electoral College votes needed for election has remained narrow — and may have grown even more precarious. It now looks exceedingly difficult for him to assemble even the barest Electoral College majority without beating Hillary Clinton in a trifecta of the biggest swing states: Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
This once again demonstrates that because of changing demographics, especially an increasing Latino population, Republicans may be all but shut out of winning any national elections. And this trend will worsen for them in future national elections as more red states become purple on their way to blue.
Can Trump capture the trifecta of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida previously won by Obama? It’s not impossible but pretty unlikely.
Ohio is Trump's best chance to flip a state to his column but Hillary still holds a small edge there. And he will get no help from Republican Governor John Kasich who has refused to endorse him.
Pennsylvania has been designated a swing state in the last several presidential elections only to settle in with a persistent Democratic advantage as Election Day approaches. A good turnout in the Philadelphia area may well seal the deal there for Hillary.
As for Florida, the Latinos know that a Trump loss there will be a back breaker so you can be sure they will be turn out in force come Election Day.
So does Trump have a chance to win this November? Assuming his campaign doesn’t flame out before then, the Electoral College math is not in his favor. This is not to say that he has no chance. It just means that to have any real hope of winning, he will have to flip several states that voted for Obama into his column. Trump seems to believe this can be done but party strategists have their serious doubts.
Even if Trump has a relatively small chance of winning, the fact that he has any chance at all is of great concern to many who feel that Trump is perhaps the most unqualified and even dangerous presidential nominee of a major party in our history. But no matter how favorable Hillary’s chances may eventually look by Election Day, complacency is not an option! Trump has shown incredible resilience in keeping his campaign alive during controversies that would have done in just about any other candidate. We underestimate him at our peril!