Friday, July 22, 2016

Republicans Map Path to Victory

At WSJ, "Behind in Polls, Republicans Hope to Blaze New Trail to Victory":
CLEVELAND—Republican Donald Trump’s fall campaign will test whether the most unconventional major-party presidential nominee in generations can cut an unconventional path to the White House.

He aims to outmaneuver Democratic rival Hillary Clinton by capturing a handful of states in the Rust Belt and the Northeast that typically favor Democrats, with an appeal to less-educated, working-class voters.

But the New York businessman leaves the convention here with the most negative public image of any nominee in modern history, particularly among minority voters, according to recent polls, and with many Republicans still hesitant to accept him as their standard bearer.

Those headwinds to winning the 270 electoral votes needed to claim the presidency are particularly strong in some of the country’s more racially and ethnically diverse swing states, polling shows, including Colorado and Virginia, where Mrs. Clinton leads.

Her image, though, is nearly as tarnished as Mr. Trump’s, and the convention here made it clear that Republicans want to make her the focus of the race. Most of the speakers dwelled on her perceived failings, often to chants of “lock her up.’’

In addition, the landscape could change drastically before Election Day, when the conventions will be a distant memory and Mr. Trump will have squared off with Mrs. Clinton in three fall debates. Republican George H.W. Bush, for example, surged past Democrat Michael Dukakis in the fall of 1988.

Advisers to Mr. Trump point to Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin as states where he can outperform past GOP nominees, though the three states haven’t voted Republican in a presidential race since at least 1988.

His team is casting an even wider net, suggesting that Mr. Trump can compete in the solidly blue states of Connecticut, New Jersey and Oregon. “I’m not saying we’re going to win, but we’re going to put them into play,” said Donald Trump Jr., one of the candidate’s sons, at a breakfast this week hosted by the The Wall Street Journal. He was referring to the three blue states, which  Republicans lost in 2012 by double-digit margins.

From the campaign’s outset, the Electoral College math has favored Democrats, with Mr. Trump needing to win 64 more electoral votes than Republican Mitt Romney won in 2012.

Still, when the race began last year, the political environment seemed to be tipping in Republicans’ favor. Voters were eager for change, and it had been more than a decade since the share of Americans who thought the country was on the right track outpaced those who thought it was on the wrong track.

That hasn’t changed, and yet Mrs. Clinton still leads nationally, according to Wall Street Journal/NBC News polling throughout this year...

It's going to be uphill, although surprisingly, Trump's been running even with Clinton nationally, and in some key battleground states as well. See the Suffolk poll out yesterday on Ohio, for example, "Suffolk University Ohio Poll Shows Trump and Clinton Tied at 44 Percent."