The results from Indiana are in the new reality is simply stated: Donald Trump is the GOP nominee.
A year ago I wouldn’t have bet money that Trump would still be in the race now, let alone the presumptive nominee. He never appeared to have the gravitas and temperament of the standard GOP presidential nominee, he didn’t seem nearly as conservative as he should be, and he seemed to misstep often, or at least what would be missteps for the average politician.
But what I didn’t see was that the GOP voters were not looking for a standard nominee. Had they been looking for an establishment candidate they could have had Jeb Bush or Scott Walker. Someone a little younger and with more energy? Marco Rubio. Someone conservative and reaching out to the tea party and evangelicals? Ted Cruz.
But they didn’t want a party guy, they wanted someone who was entirely outside of the box.
And they got him.
Donald Trump is now looking towards a general election against Hillary Clinton who, let’s face it, has been the presumptive Democratic nominee since the day Obama won his second term.
Can he beat her?
Not on political experience, not in appeal to typical voter demographics, and not with the GOP running short of cash and cross-party support for the Trump candidacy right now.
But if this election cycle has proved anything it is that the normal rules don’t seem to be applying this time around. And what’s more, there are a couple of things that could really derail the otherwise straight-shot that Hillary Clinton has for the White House.
The biggest stumbling block is the ongoing FBI investigation and potential for an indictment of Clinton over her email scandal. It’s hard to know whether this is going to be the sort of big thing that GOP fans hope it will – separating the wishful thinking from the reality is hard when the FBI is keeping quiet right now – but I’m not the only one who daydreams of Clinton’s acceptance speech being interrupted by a couple of officers reminding Clinton of her Miranda rights.
Another stumbling block could be the lack of resume that Clinton brings to the table. While Trump is clear he has no experience in government but only in making deals, Clinton is running on her long government record…of what, exactly? She was married to a sitting president and managed to bungle healthcare when the responsibility for that issue was handed to her. She served a while in the Senate and didn’t achieve all that much – though she did vote for the Iraq War and that doesn’t really endear her to the Democratic base. She served as Secretary of State and managed to do a very poor job with Russia, Libya, Egypt – most anywhere, actually. And her post-State work giving speeches for big bucks to the sorts of people that Democrats don’t really like all that much isn’t likely to motivate voters to pull the lever for her.
Then there’s her campaigning which, to be honest, is horrible. She comes across as wooden, focus-grouped, and not at all spontaneous. Trump, on the other hand, is entertaining, he’s loud, he’s boisterous, and he shoots from the hip. She’s campaigned horribly on the stump against Bernie Sanders and she’s somehow still running for her party’s nomination despite having the support of Democratic donors, the Democratic establishment, and most elected Democratic politicians. The only support she hasn’t managed to get completely on board? The voters.
Finally, there’s always a chance that Clinton’s health will fail her. The coughing fits are likely a result of her speaking schedule and constant screeching at her (relatively small) rallies. But she has had health conditions take her out of action before for weeks or months at a time, she is under consistent stress in the campaign, and all eyes are on her. I don’t think that the American people will have any problem electing a woman president but they won’t elect an elderly person from either party whose health is not up to par.
If this sounds like I think Trump needs to get lucky or for Clinton to implode somehow to win, well, it’s not exactly true. While any of these things would likely swing the election towards Trump – and I think an indictment would hand it to the GOP altogether – there is also the not small matter of the Trump campaign. This guy, perhaps more than any other modern politician save Barack Obama, understands mainstream and new media. he knows how to stay in the spotlight, how to brand opponents, how to be outrageous, and how to be serious. The guy can get the coverage he wants, when he wants it, and from whom he wants it (there’s a reason he’s consistently on Fox & Friends and Morning Joe and not on The Mark Levin Show). He’s a great campaigner and will take it to Clinton whether the race moves his way or not.
Bring on the general…