Donald Trump: Against all odds
Everyone said it wouldn’t happen. Everyone was wrong.
May 3, 2016, Donald Trump pulls off one of the most unlikely electoral coups of modern times. Toppling the political and media establishment, Trump becomes the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.
His campaign initially dismissed as a joke, Trump confounds the pundits to such a degree that all bets are off about how the rest of the 2016 Presidential race might unfold.
‘Thought I’d be going longer’
Even Trump himself seemed surprised by the swiftness at which he locked down the nomination. In an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday May 4, Trump said he expected Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton to finish her primary campaign before him. “I’m even surprised,” Trump said. “I thought I’d be going longer, she’d be going shorter.”
But the drudgery of presidential politics leaves no time for relishing victory.
In his first full day as the presumptive nominee, Trump’s campaign had to quickly shift gears from a primary fight to a search for a running mate.
Meanwhile, Trump faces a host of new questions including whether his unorthodox approach to winning the GOP primary will translate into a general election battle against one of the biggest names in politics today: Hilary Clinton.
Starting from a tough place
The latest CNN/ORC poll dated Wednesday May 4 find that Clinton leads Trump 54% to 41% in a potential general election match-up. She is more trusted than him on issues ranging from foreign policy to education and health care.
Still, by a 50% to 45% margin, voters say Trump would do a better job handling the economy. And almost 9 out of 10 voters in the poll called the economy extremely or very important to their vote, outranking any other issue tested in the poll.
The political skills that Trump brought to the primary fight could prove potent in a race already shaping up as a bitter, nasty personal clash between the two presidential candidates.
Up to now, Trump’s tough tactics disrupted one of the most experienced Republican fields of presidential candidates in a generation. He destroyed the political hopes of Jeb Bush with his “low energy” jibe. He destroyed the political hopes of Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio referring to them as “Lying” Ted and “Little” Marco.
Trump is now trying to take a similar approach to Clinton, dubbing her “Crooked Hillary,” accusing her to play “The Women Card”.
Revolutionizing political campaigns
With an spot-on eye for a rival’s weaknesses, Trump revolutionized how campaigns are won, becoming a master of social media, hijacking news agendas with skills honed on a reality television and a mastery of targeted marketing.
And with undeniable political skill, Trump became an earthy cypher for ignored blue collar Americans who revile conventional politicians as they struggle to get by in a wounded economy.
Using just a few issues, like illegal immigration, the toll wreaked on industrial communities by free trade and by playing into a wider sense of national decline with his “Make America Great Again” message, Trump made himself an unstoppable political force. His bite was so intimidating that by the time competitors such as Bush, Cruz and Rubio mustered the courage to criticize his past, his character and his politics, their campaigns were already faltering.
Clinton may not make a similar mistake. In an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, she showed no problem hitting Trump. “He’s a loose cannon,” she said. “And loose cannons tend to misfire.”
Even though along the primaries, Trump lifted his vote totals easily above the 50% mark, his core support in the blue collar Republican electorate still represents a minority of opinion in a nation that is becoming more diverse and less white.
Defying rock-bottom approval ratings
Trump enters the general election with rock-bottom approval ratings among Hispanics, African-Americans and women.
His rudimentary policy platforms will come under increasing scrutiny. Then voters will have to decide if they are willing to elect a President whose impact is already reaching far beyond the nation’s borders, triggering palpable concern abroad.
Trump’s critics worry that his political rhetoric on issues from immigration to women’s rights take American politics closer to the dark fringes of demagoguery than it has been for decades and the Democratic barrage has already begun.
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren went on the attack soon after Trump’s triumph in Indiana tweeting that Trump built his campaign on “racism, sexism, and xenophobia” and that what happens next “will determine whether we move forward as one nation or splinter at the hands of one man’s narcissism and divisiveness.”
Many Democrats believe that Trump’s victory in the GOP primary means they are almost certain to keep the White House. However, as the past year has proven, they would be unwise to underestimate the power of Trump.
Trump will be the next president of the United States of America.
JMD is an enthusiastic private and public events speaker, writer, syndicated columnist and social activist who most enjoys evolving in complex interactive situations.