Can Trump Win the Presidency?
Democrats are convinced that Donald J. Trump will not be elected president. And they have good reason for that belief: Trump has managed to insult many crucial demographic groups, most notably Latinos and women. But Democratic thinking mimics that of Republican elites nearly 10 months ago. Remember when all GOP candidates and many elected officials stated that Trump would not become the nominee? Such cocksure statements ultimately proved to be false. Trump wantonly attacked 2008 Republican nominee John McCain because he was captured in war, compared Ben Carson to a child molester, ceaselessly harassed Lindsey Graham, brazenly dismissed the last Republican president (George W. Bush), insinuated that Ted Cruz’s father took part in John F. Kennedy’s assassination, and assailed 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney. Yet he won.
What makes Democrats so sure that Trump won’t win the general election? Yes, he has a foot-in-mouth habit, flip-flops constantly, and puts forth absolutely no effort in learning public policy, but none of that has mattered. No ideological attacks have changed his poll numbers. No debate attacks over his conservative bona fides or outlandish policy ideas diminished his chances of winning the nomination. In fact, through it all, Trump supporters — a true cult — fell deeper and deeper for their illiberal candidate. Why would that change for the general election? Better yet, why, given his many missteps and poor standing among Latinos and women, can Trump win?
All it takes is one event over the next 5.5 months and all those laughing when asked “can Trump win?” will spend election night pondering where they went wrong; all it takes for Trump to become president is one event.
That event is a domestic terrorist attack.
Prior to the Paris and San Bernardino attacks, Trump’s poll numbers had started to stagnate and even dip. However, following the terrorist strikes and his Muslim ban proposal, his numbers rocketed. The chart below shows his poll numbers from the beginning of November through the end of 2015 (he soared almost 10 points, or 40 percent, in that time frame).
For some reason, a man with no foreign policy experience — a man who touts being the Grand Marshall of a parade as pro-Israel credentials and has cited hosting beauty pageants in foreign countries as international experience — is viewed as tough on terrorism. That’s true beyond just Republican voters. A domestic terrorist attack could very well provide Trump with an irreversible boost in the polls, one which would flip the current electoral standing.
Here’s the scary part: ISIS has every reason to encourage a lone-wolf terror attack in the United States before the general election. Trump is a boon to ISIS’s recruitment: ISIS thrives on an incorrect notion that the West is at war with Islam. But Trump almost makes that idea correct. His want to ban Muslims from the country and register Muslims citizens here (when asked about how that idea differed from Hitler’s Jew registry, Trump responded “you tell me”) lends weight to the (incorrect) idea that Western democrats and individuals despise Islam and want to see it eliminated. Using Trump and his policy ideas in recruitment advertisements and videos will help ISIS find new members.
ISIS leaders are not dumb. They understand politics and surely know that a Trump presidency would strengthen their standing. And I have to imagine they realize that the best way of electing Trump would be to launch or encourage a domestic terror attack.
As seen in Brussels, terrorist strikes are frighteningly easy. There are many vulnerable points in American mass-transit systems. A strike in any of those spots would result in numerous casualties and surely would succeed in terrorizing the nation, pushing undecided voters into Trump’s camp given his (horrendously flawed) image as a tough man.
One terrorist attack and an illiberal politician whose policies could well push America on a road to proto-fascism may be swept into the Oval Office.
We need to defeat Trump early — Democrats need to destroy his candidacy before he destroys them (and the country). That means super PACs need to front-load advertisements; the Clinton campaign needs to do the same. Bernie Sanders, if he insists on staying in the race, needs to focus his ire on Trump, not Clinton. Rank and file Democrats need to volunteer and donate to the party and its presumptive nominee early so the party can destroy Trump’s poll numbers and standing with voters.
Trump needs to be put down right away; otherwise, the uncertainty of the next 5.5 months might be a boon to his candidacy.
So, can Trump win? Yes, and very easily.