It’s always darkest before it’s totally black. ~ JOHN McCAIN
We have now entered the part of the movie where the only chance Donald Trump has to avoid a landslide of historic proportions (think 1964) is sheer dumb luck. This is because he is not eligible for miracles.
Ten weeks after Trump improbably clinched the Republican nomination and three weeks after the GOP national convention, he has tracked downwards -- in some polls at an incredibly accelerating rate -- by virtually every measurable metric at a time when polls settle down, skewing can be factored out and what you see if what you get, adjusting of course for margin of error.
This has less to do with Trump managing to turn everything he touches into a disaster, be it dissing the Gold Star parents of a Muslim Army captain who sacrificed his life to a suicide bomber on an Iraqi roadside to save his comrades to his ongoing bromance with Vladimir Putin and assertion that it would be great if Russian intelligence services cyberhacked U.S. government agencies, than a very simple fact:
Trump reached his ceiling of support months ago while Clinton hasn't come close to her ceiling.
Clinton, in fact, may well have been underpolling because of what pollsters call the Shy Tory Effect, a British polling term which when applied to the presidential race means that the number of Republicans who will vote for Clinton in the privacy of voting booths is much higher than acknowledged.
There just aren't enough angry white guys and diehard Republicans to boost Trump, who finds his party fracturing under his feet, while Clinton is building on the bulletproof Obama coalition by drawing in fence-sitting Independents, those despondent Republicans and Bernie Sanders acolytes who understand that Trump's candidacy represents a national emergency. This notwithstanding Clinton's still sky-high negatives, which stand at 53 percent in one poll versus 61 percent for Trump.
Dumb luck would take the form of a hyper-damaging WikiLeaks disclosure or other October Surprise, but considering that Clinton's entrails have been under the right-wing microscope for over 20 years now and Trump already has called her every name in the book, it is difficult to imagine what would significantly alter the race.
The gory details of a landslide in the making:
* The reliable FiveThirtyEight forecast now shows Hillary Clinton receiving 50 percent of the popular vote to Trump's 42 percent, with Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson claiming 7 percent.
* Under this model, Clinton gets 365 electoral votes to Trump's 173, with 270 needed to win. (In 1964, LBJ won 44 states and 486 electoral votes, while Barry Goldwater won just six states for 52 electoral votes.)
* FiveThirtyEight has now flipped two red state bastions — Arizona and Georgia — to leaning Clinton from leaning Trump.
* There also is movement toward Clinton in very red Utah, which last voted for a Democrat in 1964. Long story short, the reason is that Mormons don't like liars and so they hate Trump.
* The swing states that matter — Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Virginia — are all in Clinton’s column.
* The much-vaunted post-convention bounces disproportionately favored Clinton, and some analysts who have examined the bounces in detail pronounced the Republican Convention a disaster.
* A trickle of so-called under-educated white male voters, who are Trump's core constituency, are migrating to Clinton, while college-educated whites and Republican women are fleeing him in droves.
* Trump leads Clinton among white voters overall by an average of only 5 percent.
* A majority of Bernie Sanders supporters now say they will vote for Clinton.
* African-American support for Trump is as low as 1 percent in some polls.
* The number of prominent Republicans distancing themselves from Trump, most recently Senator Susan Collins, are likely to increase.
* For good measure, Melania Trump ranks dead last in the favorability ratings of the last 14 spouses of presidents and major-party presidential candidates.
As FiveThirtyEight analyst Harry Enten says, polls count a lot more than conspiracy theories concocted to make it seem like Trump is really ahead. And no matter what you may think, elections are won in August, not November.
With three months to go, the bottom has fallen out of the Trump campaign, which was a disorganized mess to begin with. There simply is no good news anywhere -- geographically or demographically -- for the man with the small hands and peculiar hair, whom we can expect to continue to try to "reboot" and to "pivot" as he turns up the trash talk.
Cases at hand: Rather than turn the other cheek when 50 Republican national security bigs on Monday declared that as president Trump would be dangerous, he fired back and drew even more attention to the detractors and his penchant for sounding more like a schoolyard bully than being presidential. He followed that up on Tuesday with the suggestion that gun rights supporter take matters into their own hands if Clinton is elected. In other words, it's okay to shoot his opponent.
And just wait until some aspiring journalist finally gets a hold of his tax returns.
POLITIX UPDATE IS WRITTEN BY SHAUN MULLEN, A VETERAN JOURNALIST AND BLOGGER FOR WHOM THE 2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN IS HIS 12th SINCE 1968. CLICK HERE FOR AN INDEX OF PREVIOUS COLUMNS.
© 2015-2016 SHAUN D. MULLEN
CHARTS COURTESY OF FIVETHIRTYEIGHT.COM
CHARTS COURTESY OF FIVETHIRTYEIGHT.COM