Donald Trump’s rise and resilience is unique in our modern political history. He seems almost to be the default setting for the Republican primary voter.
If he screws up on television, a few supporters leave him for a few weeks. If Ted Cruz spends millions on ads and has every endorsement in the state (Wisconsin), he might beat Trump in that one state. But then Trump snaps right back to a dominant position.
In the past two weeks, Trump has made very little news. His handlers are keeping him off interview shows. He hasn’t made any major policy pronouncements. The media has been filled with insider baseball about Colorado, North Dakota, Wyoming, Rule 40B, and a potential second ballot. And Trump has run very little in the way of paid media.
And yet, if the polls were correct, he was headed for an overwhelming triumph in New York State yesterday and holds leads in all five states that vote a week later (Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Rhode Island and Connecticut). It now looks like he will get the overwhelming share of the 267 delegates to be selected over this period, putting him less than one hundred votes shy of 1,000 delegates. He needs 1,237.
But things can change.
–Cruz could get off the mat and win Pennsylvania, a state whose delegates are not bound and in which Cruz is doing well in the delegate selection process.
–Cruz could win Indiana’s 57 votes and Nebraska’s 37.
–If Cruz did that and parlayed his strength in the far west into wins on the Pacific coast, he could block Trump and win on the second ballot.
But there is no denying that Trump is a force of nature, like magnetism or gravity, his grip on the Republican primary voter is so strong. He may have a 75 percent negative rating among America’s women, but there is not much gender gap in his primary vote. He does about as well among Republican women as he does with Republican men.
Republicans won the election of 2004 by bringing 10 million more, largely white, voters out than voted in 2000. Obama won in 2008 by bringing out 10 million more blacks, Latinos and young people than voted in 2004.
Mitt Romney lost, in part, because 10 million whites stayed home.
Trump can get them back. In the primaries, he has demonstrated a vote-getting power that is extraordinary. Without a field organization worth mentioning, he has pushed Republican turnout to a level 75 percent higher than it was in 2012. When all is done, about 33 million people will vote in the Republican primaries, up from 19 million four years ago. There’s the missing 10 — or 14 — million!
Can Trump’s ability to get his voters out and hold their support win in the face of his terrible national general election numbers?
That is the question.
Trump clearly has a 10 point problem.
He runs 10 points worse among women against Hillary Clinton than Romney did against President Obama. He has 10 points less favorability, and 10 points more unfavorability, than Clinton. And he loses to her by 10 in the realclearpolitics.com average (49-39).
But, don’t count him out. Trump could still beat Clinton.
Who knows what the impact of the FBI investigation into her emails will be. Bernie Sanders has waged an antiseptic campaign on the issues without having the ill grace to bring up THAT subject. And the Benghazi report?
And Clinton has such a propensity for making mistakes!
Trump could use his opposition to trade deals and his refusal to take PAC money to rally the Sanders voters, who supported Bernie over the same issues.
It ain’t over.
COPYRIGHT 2016 DICK MORRIS AND EILEEN MCGANN
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