THE MORNING PLUM:
Donald Trump’s slide in the national polls is becoming so obvious that even he may no longer be able to deny it for much longer. Or will he?
Politico’s Steven Shepard has a good analysis of all the recent polling that makes two basic points. First, the polls now “unanimously” show that Hillary Clinton is building a real lead over Trump. And second, a look at all the recent polls showing him upside down — which are detailed at length in the piece — reveals that Trump’s personal unfavorable numbers are not just bad. They are actually “setting modern records for political toxicity.”
But there are two additional key points. First, note the intensity of dislike of Trump:
It’s not just the overall unfavorable numbers — it’s the intensity of the antipathy toward Trump, and the lack of enthusiasm for him. In the ABC News/Washington Post poll, 56 percent of respondents had a “strongly unfavorable” opinion of Trump, compared to just 15 percent who had a “strongly favorable” opinion. In the Bloomberg poll, 51 percent had a “very unfavorable” opinion of Trump, with only 11 percent having a “very favorable” opinion.
And the second key point is that, while Hillary Clinton is also disliked, there is just no comparison to Trump:
Clinton’s image ratings are also “upside-down” — but compared with Trump, she’s more than likable enough. The ABC News/Washington Post poll pegs her favorable rating at 43 percent (25 percent strongly favorable), with 55 percent viewing her unfavorably (39 percent strongly unfavorable).
Crucially, note that in the WaPo and Bloomberg polls, a majority of Americans has a strongly unfavorable view of Trump. But the WaPo poll shows only a minority of 39 percent has a strongly unfavorable view of Clinton. That’s true of the Bloomberg poll, too, in which 40 percent view her very unfavorably.
This is another way in which there is simply no equivalence in how disliked Trump and Clinton are, which cuts against one of the punditry’s cherished narratives, i.e., that gosh, it’s just so awful that the parties are foisting two deeply hated candidates on the poor voters!
One is strongly disliked by a majority of Americans (at least in those two polls), and the other isn’t. That’s a key distinction: It suggests that Trump could be inspiring a level of mainstream antipathy and even revulsion that could prove harder to turn around than the less intense dislike Clinton is eliciting.
Yet all indications are that Trump is still so caught up in the glow of his GOP primary victories that he may not even be capable of acknowledging what’s happening right now. In a key tell, Morning Joe aired some footage of Trump at a rally in Dallas last night, in which he launched a lengthy soliloquy about how the polls had underestimated his strength in the primaries. At one point, he said this about those polls:
“When I run, I do much better. In other words, people say, ‘I’m not gonna say who I’m voting for’ — don’t be embarrassed — ‘I’m not gonna say who I’m voting for,’ and then they get in, and I do much better. It’s like an amazing effect.”
It would not be surprising if Trump is telling himself something similar about the general election polling, if, that is, he even takes it seriously enough to bother thinking about it at all.
* BERNIE TAKES STEPS TOWARDS ENDING CAMPAIGN: John Wagner reports that Bernie Sanders spoke to his supporters via livestream last night, and while he did not endorse Hillary Clinton, he indicated the end is near:
“The major political task that together we face in the next five months is to make certain that Donald Trump is defeated and defeated badly,” Sanders said of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. “And I personally intend to begin my role in that process in a very short period of time.” But “defeating Trump cannot be our only goal,” Sanders cautioned.
Meanwhile, Sanders aides confirm he is not trying to flip super-delegates, meaning that his only remaining goal is to try to secure as many concessions as possible heading into the convention.
* MEDIA MOVES ON FROM COVERING BERNIE: Yamiche Alcindor adds this biting detail about last night’s speech:
As Mr. Sanders spoke of continuing his political revolution, much of the mainstream media that he regularly bemoans had moved on. CNN dedicated its coverage to the Orlando massacre, while Fox News hosts discussed the scourge of terrorism. MSNBC aired the beginning of his remarks live and then cut away. But Mr. Sanders’s core supporters, who have given his cause voice on Twitter for more than a year, were still there for him. The hashtag #OurRevolution became the fourth-most popular in the United States as he spoke.
The end of campaigns is often a wrenching experience for those who poured their souls into it for months and months.
* IS BERNIE LOSING HIS LEVERAGE? Politico’s Gabriel Debenetti suggests that Sanders may actually be losing his leverage over the convention, as his top supporters begin to announce that they are backing Clinton:
It’s the one thing he’s been bleeding every day ever since he dropped California’s primary by a much wider-than-expected margin last week. Sanders’ summer was supposed to be all about building leverage for the Democratic convention, providing him with a better hand to play as he presses Clinton to accept his policy positions and party reform suggestions. Now, the people closest to him aren’t sure how exactly to get it back.
One idea: Endorse Clinton, throw the Sanders movement’s energy into defeating Trump, and reconstitute it as a vehicle to pressure Clinton from the left, should she win.
* FIGHT OVER FRACKING LOOMS FOR DEMS: The Hill previews an interesting battle taking shape among Democrats: Environmentalists who back Sanders want Dems to put anti-fracking language into the platform. Sanders has called for a national backing on fracking, while Clinton has called for regulating it and supports ending it where local officials do.
However this is resolved, environmental advocates will likely coalesce behind Clinton, since she supports implementing the global climate deal, while Trump would nix it immediately.
* REPUBLICANS WON’T ACT ON GUNS, AGAIN: The Post reports that the Dem push for new gun measures in the wake of the Orlando shooting is likely to run into the same old brick wall of opposition to action from Republicans. But:
Republicans have offered bills that would keep guns away from terrorism suspects, but only if authorities can prove probable cause within three business days of the attempted sale….Sen. Charles E. Schumer dismissed the GOP proposals as “a way for them to say they’re doing something when they are doing nothing.”
There are serious reasons for skepticism about the Dem proposal on terror suspects. But Republicans won’t act on expanding background checks to cover private sales, either, even as they pretend to be open to some kind of action.
* CAN HILLARY BROADEN THE MAP AGAINST TRUMP? National Journal asks a very good question: Should Clinton be seriously competing in Arizona and Georgia? Note this nugget:
Credible public polling in Arizona has been sparse. But one private poll conducted by an interest group unaffiliated with either campaign and provided to National Journal found Trump leading Clinton 42 percent to 39 percent in the state.
Three points — in Arizona! If true, that would be consistent with the Clinton campaign’s view that Trump puts states such as these in play. Also watch North Carolina.
* AND HOW FAR WOULD TRUMP GO? Michael Gerson suggests some good questions for Trump:
What limiting principle would prevent a roundup of all Muslims?…What is the limiting principle that would prevent his use of nuclear weapons against the Islamic State capital of Raqqa?…What limiting principle would prevent President Trump from targeting congressional opponents with innuendo that they are traitors or murderers, or any other accusation that Alex Jones puts on the Web?….What limiting principle would prevent him from changing libel laws to restrict media criticism against him?
As I’ve argued, people who interview Trump should press him for as many specifics on his intentions as possible. In the event of a major terror attack or threat, would he rule out internment camps for Muslims? What about rooting them out of government?