NOTHSTINE: Can Trump still win?

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during a campaign event in Fairfield

At the end of July in 1988, former Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis was crushing his presidential opponent by double digits in most polls. Gallup had Dukakis winning by as much as 17 points that summer. Thanks in part to Ronald Reagan’s popularity and a man named Willie Horton, George H.W. Bush would go on to win the general election with relative ease.That type of comeback seems out of reach for Donald Trump. Polling over the last several weeks shows Hillary Clinton leading Trump nationally by close to 10 points. Her biggest advantage is the electoral map, where she currently is holding a commanding lead in the majority of swing states. On Tuesday, Clinton’s campaign announced it is suspending ads for over two weeks in Virginia, Colorado, and Pennsylvania. Her campaign believes those states are no longer competitive for Trump. Clinton now can afford to go on offense in deep red states where she trails narrowly, like Georgia and South Carolina. Trump’s main problem, besides the fact that his personal negatives are greater than the contemporary embodiment of political corruption, is that he is running against multiple opponents. The media, the Democrat Party political machine, and a small but vocal bloc of Republicans and conservatives are all against him. Just this week, Evan McMullin, a Mormon and native of Utah who is backed by the Better for America organization, qualified for the ballot in his home state. Put forward as the conservative alternative to Trump, McMullin’s candidacy could conceivably tip Utah to Clinton. Almost every past election model given the paltry GDP growth rate and a fatigue for the party in the White House points to a Republican victory, but Trump’s negatives and lack of message discipline continues to sink his campaign. Trump so far has invested little in national ads compared to Clinton and seems to lean on the power of free media over advertising and marketing experts. The Ross Perot campaign was another movement that favored free media over paid and more traditional advertising — but Perot is now an electoral footnote. Trump continually boasted about his poll lead in the Republican primaries and over Clinton but is now regulated to bragging about his massive crowds at rallies. However, if crowd size alone determined the presidency it’s possible that Ron Paul would be finishing up his second term. Many pundits declare that Trump’s only chance for getting back into the race depends on a smoking gun from another Wikileaks document dump or significant terrorist attacks to reset the dynamics of the race. When a presidential challenger needs dramatic help that is outside of his control, which usually signals an impending loss. A more disciplined and experienced candidate may fare better with his back against the wall than Trump. But despite Trump’s significant deficiencies as a candidate, he offers legitimate critiques of our nation’s ailments. National security, illegal immigration, and our federal debt are real and significant problems that become more urgent when weighed against Washington’s indifference. Even if Trump loses, dissatisfaction with Washington will only continue to swell. Given Hillary Clinton’s massive scandals and corruption, she will be not be an accessible or credible leader, resembling instead a walled off president Richard Nixon in the final months of Watergate. Trump may serve himself better by heeding the advice of experts and focusing on the nation’s economic malaise and Clinton’s corruption, but ultimately he has to successfully make his case to the people. There is still time in what has been a raucous and wild election. If Trump can find a way to patch up at least some respectability, he is still the candidate of change running against a candidate of the past. While it may be unclear to some that he even wants the presidency, millions upon millions who feel forgotten and pushed aside by their government have hinged their hope on Trump’s battle against the Washington power structure. Despite the almost endless list of personal and political defects of Trump, a Clinton presidency assures a further push to the left for America and a doubling down of cronyism and corruption within the federal government.