United States presidential contests are all about the numbers. 270 to be exact. That's the number of Electoral College votes needed to become the President of the United States come November 3, 2016. At first glance it looks as easy math until you realize that not all states are created equal. Thing is you have to understand presidential political math and how to mix and match states to get to the 270 votes. Right now things are looking up for Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton while Donald Trump, the Republican standard bearer, is having all kinds of problems that many in the political arena are finding it exceedingly hard to see how he gets to the 270.
Consistent swing states polling are showing that Trump has a very, very difficult path to win the election. I will go so far as to say that in order for Trump to win this election he has to capture EVERY state that Mitt Romney won in 2012 and then add the three key battleground states of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. That's an extremely tall order even given the fact that President Obama won these states by about 5 percentage points on average. For Trump that's not only going to take some doing but is a situation further compounded by the fact that he's pissed off quite a few influential Republicans and then some who could have been helpful to his quixotic campaign.
Looking at the numbers I see that President Obama won Florida in 2012 by 1 percent. But since that time the Sunshine State has undergone some significant demographic changes and is leaning solidly democratic as of now. Mr. Trump MUST win this state and its 29 Electoral College votes to have any chance at winning the presidential elections. And as Ms. Clinton continues to build a formidable get out the vote operation in Florida and other swing states, even as Mr. Trump fiddles as Nero did when Rome burned -- a win possibility is slipping farther and farther away from him. His problem is also complicated by the fact that Ms. Clinton is widening her national lead over him and her campaign has not yet peaked.
Ohio seems Mr. Trump's likely starting best bet but even there Ms. Clinton has a narrow lead over him. As the campaign tightens it will become harder and harder for Mr. Trump to eke out a victory since she's methodically cutting off and blocking any realistic paths that he has to gain victory. What is means is that Mr. Trump's political options are becoming fewer and fewer his pompous preening and loud-talking notwithstanding. One reason is that Mr. Trump is his own worst enemy: he's running a presidential as if it was a Republican primary where his browbeating, bullying, insults and bombast were enough to carry the day.
Not so in a presidential general election -- you have to do three things: raise money, develop an efficient ground game and command and control the national debate by remaining on message. In this contest the undecided and independent voters become crucial elements in any winning coalition. Mr. Trump's narrow appeal to white blue-collar workers will not and cannot bring him victory. And that's easier said than done in a Trump campaign with a sledgehammer approach to EVERYTHING - any real of perceived attack - that otherwise would be better left alone or at best handled with swift dispatch. He has replaced strategy with verbose grandstanding and tactics have become completely non-existent.
But lets say for argument's sake that Mr. Trump wins in BOTH Florida and Ohio. The challenge will be Pennsylvania where Ms. Clinton leads him by double digits -- a really tall margin to erase given the limited time before November 3. That state with its 20 Electoral College votes will help balance out Florida. President Obama won it in 2012 with 5 percent of the vote and it has voted reliably Democratic since 1992.
An inability to understand the kind of strategic political thinking and decision-making necessary to win a presidential election has eluded Mr. Trump who just seems to be lurching from one unforced error after another. For example, perplexingly, he has campaigned in Blue State Connecticut -- a state that he's unlikely to win -- and Pennsylvania that's now solidly in Ms. Clinton's Democratic column. Mr. Trump has defended his actions by saying that he has a significant following among blue-collar workers there. So let me indulge this political fallacy. Let's give Mr. Trump wins in both Florida and Ohio and Ms. Clinton wins in Pennsylvania. He could, with some challenges -- great big challenges -- win the presidency by checkmating her in several other states that have gone Democratic in recent elections. While not an impossibility -- everything is possible in politics -- it does appear highly unlikely that this will happen.
For Hillary Clinton the path to the White House is far easier. For example, even if she loses Florida, Ohio and Virginia where President Obama won by very small margins in 2012 she will become the first female POTUS if she wins the other states Obama did by significant margins. Moreover, the danger for Mr. Trump is that she can conceivably win one or two of the states that Mitt Romney captured to secure victory -- every "red" state she wins it becomes much harder for Mr. Trump to triumph. With over two months to go before polling day the advantage at this is clearly Hillary Clinton's.
Then there are the down ticket races for the Senate and the House of Representatives.
For those Republicans worried that political berserker Donald Trump will drag down ballot candidates, especially those vulnerable senate races, by his erratic and convulsing campaign -- these worries are justified. Recent polls and projections show Ms. Clinton leading Mr. Trump in Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Hampshire, Colorado, Michigan, Wisconsin and if-you-believe-it Georgia. If the elections were held tomorrow, The Donald wouldn't win enough Electoral College votes to field a soccer team. Republicans have a right to be afraid because they allowed Mr. Trump to ride rough shod over any and all remaining concepts of decency both in an out of the political arena.
Now they are paying for their hypocritical silence and giggling insanity while they created the ultimate political monster, Frankentrump, now clearly out of control and wreaking havoc in the party of Lincoln. In a state of acute panic and anxiety they have floated all kinds of cockamamie political substitutions and configurations in futile efforts to "Stop Trump." I believe that they now realize that unless Lord Jesus or Buddha Himself suddenly came here to help they're stuck with him and that's why they are rushing out of Trump Towers as if Armageddon itself was impending.
Now at this ungodly political hour they are talking about his extreme idiocy, his recklessness, his shaming and embarrassing of the Republican Party as if this was somehow something brand new. Some Republican leaders are also shuddering at the prospect that should he win the elections (by some miracle) and get his hands on U.S. nuke codes the world would suddenly be in a very, very dangerous position. And they are worried about "the Trump effect" on down ballot races and still toying at the idea of replacing him with God-knows-who on the ballot. In Trump's caustic wording: Nah. Not going to happen. You are stuck with this nincompoop from now until November when Hillary Clinton will mop the floor with him and relegate his idiotic candidacy to the dump heap of history -- where it belongs.
And yes, he's screwing up the down ballot races. He's created competition and openings for possible victory for Democrats in places where there should never have been any. Great going Donald Trump! Thanks for nothing! Senate. Rep. Tammy Duckworth appears well positioned to beat incumbent Republican Sen. Mark Kirk in Illinois. Evan Bayh stands a great chance of trouncing GOP Rep. Todd Young in Indiana. Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto is in a dead heat with GOP Rep. Joe Heck in Nevada. Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte recently had a lead over opponent Maggie Hassan, but that has transformed into a 10-point deficit. Ted Strickland has a puncher's chance of beating GOP Sen. Rob Portman in Ohio, and Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey is in the race of his life against Democratic challenger Katie McGinty.
Yeah, in every one of these races, Donald Trump's self-aggrandizing and narcissistic behavior has caused normally safe seats to suddenly become highly competitive. He looms large over these races, peeing and pooping on them like a dog with and acute attack of diarrhea. When Labor Day comes and things really get going we'll get a first look at how these down ballot races might go. Me? Can't wait for the sh*t to hit the fan and splatter all over Trump's face.