The corporate media has been wrong about Trump's chances since he first stepped onto that escalator
Don’t underestimate Donald Trump. Now that Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee, we may just be witnessing one of the most unpredictable presidential elections in a generation or more. While Trump is a clown in many important respects, underestimate him at your own risk.
Trump has been written off many times in this election, but he has so far overcome every odd bet against him and he may just be a great wildcard without any predictable measure to him. Make no mistake, Trump can win a general election, and his ability to fight dirty and market himself should not be taken lightly.
Unless something really shady happens at the Republican Convention, it’s a done deal that Trump will be the nominee. While it is true that Trump is an absolute buffoon with the highest unfavorable rating of any candidate in modern history, it is unwise for anyone to underestimate his abilities come the fall. In fact, if it is also equally true that Hillary Clinton has the Democratic nomination wrapped up, then we could perhaps be in store for one of the most volatile elections in many years.
Of course we shouldn’t overestimate Trump’s abilities. Trump is not a good strategist nor is he politically savvy. He is a terrible administrator, exhibited by his many business failures as well as the way he has been managing his campaign. Trump has a bad ground game, and he has tendencies to say rather bombastic and unpopular statements. Yet, despite these major flaws, Trump has managed to beat all expectations at this point, especially the expectations of the establishment media.
Trump was written off from the very beginning by the DC establishment and their media talking heads. Almost no major political pundit predicted a Donald Trump victory in the primary. All the pundits undercut Trump from day one. The pundits said Trump would get mauled in the Republican debates, and they were wrong. Trump won practically every debate by voter opinion.
The pundits said Trump would never survive losing the Iowa caucus, and he did. Trump won New Hampshire then Nevada, and continued to win the majority of contests moving forward. Each time Trump beat their conventional wisdom, the goal posts continued to shift until now, there is no more field left. The establishment was wrong about Trump the entire time, which means we should not comfort ourselves so easily at establishment predictions that Trump would lose in a landslide.
The establishment is convinced that there is no way Trump could win a general election, especially against Hillary Clinton. Here is what worries me and many progressives; we are not convinced that Hillary is the strongest candidate to face Trump come November. In fact, what we have been saying is that Hillary is in fact the weakest candidate the Democrats could field against a guy like Trump. There is data to back up this fear.
Hillary would easily be able to trounce a Republican nominee like Ted Cruz or John Kasich, no question. However, Trump is a wild card and we have already seen that he does not play by conventional political rules and has managed to overcome expectations time and again. The mood of the electorate is swinging heavily in an anti-establishment direction, and Trump is able to play on this mood while Hillary cannot. It doesn’t matter whether Trump truly is “anti-establishment” or not, it’s about how he can advertise himself.
The fact is, Trump isn’t an elected official, and does not have a background in DC circles. This is part of his appeal, part of the reason he is considered anti-establishment. Trump also has managed to turn his lack of political savvy into somewhat of an advantage, as he tries to pass himself off as a more “regular” American.
While it is true Trump has high unfavorability, we need not forget that so does Hillary. The difference in this regard is Hillary actually has a long record in politics backing this unfavorable rating, Trump’s unfavorables are based mostly on rhetoric. Hillary is an old face, playing by the rules of an old game, which is how Trump can portray her. Do not underestimate the anti-DC mood, it is not to be taken lightly.
Trump, despite his high unfavorable rating, does have crossover appeal to a certain extent. While Trump has used racism and xenophobia to garner support among Republicans, he has also said some things that sound fairly liberal. While Trump has said we should kill the families of terrorists, he has also adopted less interventionist tones on foreign policy.
Trump has openly criticized the Iraq war, a heretical idea in a Republican primary. Trump also has said he wants to be less involved in Syria, and has seemed critical of US stances on Israel/Palestine. Trump has also come out against trade deals, positioning himself as protecting American jobs from being outsourced. Trump has also, whether genuine or not, been critical of the DC establishment (mood ripe in both Democratic and Republican camps).
Trump also has much more appeal to independents than Hillary, which is not to be taken lightly in a general election. While the Democratic establishment scoffs at independent voters during the primary, they will need these same voters come November. Hillary does not attract a large amount of independents, while Trump does have the appeal.
On top of it all, Trump is great at marketing himself, which is a crucial skill to utilize during an election. As I said, it doesn’t matter whether he is truly genuine in what he says, but whether voters perceive him as genuine. If he runs against Hillary, then his ability to market himself as the outsider fighting against a corrupt DC establishment is made much easier, and combined with the other factors listed, he could make this an extremely tough fight for the Democrats. There are even polls out now showing Hillary either tied with or losing to Trump which is a bad sign. If Trump is so unfavorable, how could Hillary possibly be losing to him in any poll?
Progressives have been warning about this for a few months now. Trump will not be an easy one to overcome. He could flip the entire dynamic of this election, especially against a candidate like Hillary (who also has at least a dozen FBI agents investigating her as we speak). There is a candidate who could stand strong against someone like Trump, a candidate who has consistently beat Trump by wide margins in poll after poll, someone who is not susceptible to anti-establishment attacks and someone who has garnered more enthusiasm than any other candidate this election cycle; Bernie Sanders, but his light is fading fast.