Last week, on the morning after Hillary Clinton became the official Democratic Presidential nominee, I posted a status on my Facebook page predicting in no uncertain terms that Donald Trump would win by a slim margin. Clinton is a weak candidate. She's seen as dishonest. People don't like her.
Now, I've changed my mind. I was premature in my prediction. Thankfully, Clinton won't lose.
Hillary will win a landslide similar to Reagan's 9.7% lead over Carter in the 1980 Presidential election, because, put quite simply, Trump is his own worst enemy.
It's been just a couple of weeks since he became the Republican Party nominee, and already he's fought with a gold-star family, thrown a baby out of a rally, and belittled an award given to servicemen and women who've been injured in combat. On top of previous disgusting acts – such as stoking hatred by calling for a ban on Muslims entering the US. He's had a horrible run.
The Republican Party should have had no problem beating Clinton. She's an unpopular candidate. Had they nominated someone like John Kasich who could appeal to people outside of the Republican base, Hillary Clinton would have lost. Bernie Sanders should have been the Democratic nominee, and I was backing him as the best candidate the whole way through.
Despite Trump's infamous "I could shoot someone and not lose any votes" remark, his base has limits. His base consists of white, working-class nativists, who are staunch supporters of all veterans, mostly, regardless of religion or ethnicity. For Trump to attack a gold-star family and then belittle the purple heart and the suffering one must go through to receive one, he will undoubtedly have disturbed some of his core supporters, as indicated by his continually plummeting poll numbers.
Admittedly, the campaign is young, and a lot could change. Clinton's present poll lead could just be a large bump from an excellent convention. Nevertheless, if Trump carries on like this, he's going to find it very hard to overturn that lead. Clinton’s post-convention lead could become the keys to the White House, particularly when her convention bump was much larger, and much longer lasting, than Trump’s.
Trump's entire strategy is built on winning 3 states: Pennsylvania, Florida and Ohio. He's not worried about others. Those 3 states, on top of safe-Republican states, will give him 270 electoral votes. At the moment, he is miles behind Clinton; even some deep-red states are starting to turn.
Pundits had predicted that his "floor" - that is, the lowest his poll ratings could possibly fall – would be 40%. The problem is, he's already hit 39% in some polls, and even 33% in the latest Maris poll.
The only way Trump could possibly pull this back and beat a candidate who doesn't seem like a viable election winner is by "pivoting" to become a more honest, disciplined, statesman-like candidate, but I'm not convinced he can. He's fought his entire campaign like someone trying to win a reality show – loud, obnoxious, the centre of drama and attention. His hard-right, conservative and nationalist policies have appealed to some of the Republican base, but have little appeal to those on the right as whole.
It was for a similar reason that I predicted a Clinton loss – a lack of appeal to the American public, not due to her policies but due to her unpopularity. Against Cruz or Kasich she probably would have lost, but sadly this has become a choice between the lesser of two evils, and plainly at the moment Clinton's winning that contest.
If Trump truly wants to be President, he has to pitch himself as the lesser of two-evils and win over independent voters who have no real ideological or party loyalties.
However, there is another element to consider: third parties, specifically the Libertarians and (more importantly) the Greens. The reason being that Jill Stein – you can be forgiven for having never heard of the Green Party's nominee – is almost ideologically and politically identical to Bernie Sanders, and she is making a clear pitch for Sanders voters.
In the end the media blackout of third parties could suppress the number of defections of Sanders supporters from the Democratic Party to the Greens, but it could complicate things for Clinton if Stein can take enough votes from her. Ultimately, any loss of Bernie Democrats to the Greens will be balanced out by the number of Libertarian Republicans defecting from the Trump Party of xenophobia and extreme conservatism.
Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson has almost double Stein's poll ratings. In order to keep Trump away from the White House, it would be better for the Libertarians to win over more Republicans than for the Greens win over Democrats.
It's a funny thing that there are reports both parties are worried they have nominated the candidate who could lose. Only in 2016 could something like that happen. Fortunately for the Democrats, and indeed the world, the Republicans have not only picked the only candidate who could lose against any candidate, but also the only candidate who could possibly lose to Clinton. That's why I firmly believe that, despite my earlier prediction, Hillary Clinton will be the next President of the United States.
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