The latest poll on the presidential election shows Donald Trump down by 12 points among likely voters. For months pundits and polls have showed that Trump would most likely lose, and lose badly. During that time he has been repeatedly urged by the Republican Party to pivot towards the general election. But this is something Trump says he has no interest in doing. Trump is interested in running the same type of campaign he ran during the primary season, one which is irregular, conflictual and sometimes controversial, but which showcases Trump. It lets Trump be Trump, which is exactly what Trump wants.
The recent reshuffling of Trump’s campaign staff seemingly reinforces the direction of his campaign. Following the release of information showing questionable dealings between Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort and political parties in Ukraine, Trump brought in like-minded individuals to assist in his election efforts. And while he has shown some signs of attempting to appeal to a wider electoral base, potentially softening his stance on immigration, reaching out to African-American voters and raising money and producing television ads., for the most part Trump has continued to be Trump.
Many have found his appeal to African-Americans to be racist. His television spot criticizing Clinton’s immigration plan is factually incorrect. His new campaign manager is denying the viability of public opinion polls. He still refuses to release his tax records. And the most recent strategy employed by the Trump campaign is to question the health of Hillary Clinton and thereby her viability to be president. There is no real evidence to those claims and as evidenced by the polls, if they are to be believed, Trump is not gaining any ground. Also, his favorability ratings are not increasing.
But at least he is trying something. As emails have once again become an issue for the Clinton campaign. Continuing questions also remain regarding the Clinton Foundation. And her favorability isn’t very good either. To combat these issues Clinton’s strategy appears to be to run-out-the-clock as she has focused on fundraising away from the campaign trail in the past few days. While she has not ceased addressing campaign issues and attacks from the Trump camp, she has become less visible.
And with such a lead, why not? There is no mercy rule in politics and running up the score would be viewed as a positive for Clinton, but Clinton appears to be happy cruising into the election. Despite the potential effect of the hidden Trump voter who doesn’t show up in polls, if Clinton continues on her current course she will be president. Democrats are already planning for 2020.
This is a winning strategy for Clinton and the Democrats because all that really matters in winning. It’s not so good for voters, however. And potentially not so good for Clinton. Voters don’t particularly like Hillary Clinton. Running out the clock doesn’t fix this problem. Following momentum generated by the DNC it seemed as though Clinton may have finally turned a corner with voters but this has seemingly stalled in recent weeks, almost undoubtedly a result of continuing questions which have not been sufficiently answered by Hillary Clinton or her campaign. And there doesn’t appear to be any real plans to answer them.
The Clinton campaign is happy to win by comparison. Many people don’t really like Hillary Clinton but they dislike Donald Trump more. As Trump continues being Trump this trend is likely to continue. And Clinton is likely to win. It’s a play out of the RNC. The RNC wasn’t really about Donald Trump or the Republican Party, it was about Hillary Clinton. The message wasn’t vote for Trump, it was don’t vote for Clinton. As it becomes increasingly clear that voters will not vote for Trump this is all Clinton needs.
But all victories are not the same. Hillary Clinton must hope hers is not pyrrhic.