Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Trump-Christie Effect

In case you missed it, Donald Trump had a terrible week that saw any lead he had after the GOP Convention in Cleveland completely evaporate in a climate-changing blast of heat and parch. Not only did he dive into the empty pool of stereotype, anti-Islamic rhetoric and sexism, he ended the week by questioning the sanity and mental awareness of Hillary Clinton. She's gone from being corrupt to evil and unhinged in his eyes. It is certainly true that Hillary has spent a great deal of her campaign time attacking Trump for being unfit to be president, but when he acts the way he did last week, she has a point. If that's the way he's going to react after a political attack from the Khans, then how will he react when things go badly if (shudder) he wins the White House?

Republicans are running away from Trump in larger numbers than those he might have gained from disaffected Democrats, and his late week endorsement of Paul Ryan and John McCain's primary fights came far too late to be seen as sincere. And to think we've been told that Trump is a different person in private. Would it kill him to show us that side?

I don't have evidence, which is what makes personal blogging such a joy, but I can't help but think that Chris Christie, the now-popularly-challenged (30% approval) governor of New Jersey, is failing in his attempts to influence the Republican standard-bearer. Christie was done in because of texts and emails related to the GW Bridge scandal, and Trump's tweets seem to be having the same effects on his campaign.  But where Christie acts like a politician, Trump defies convention. If Christie is supposed to be running Trump's transition team, he's either not doing a very good job or, more likely, is having little affect on Trump's sense that he really needs to start focusing on Clinton's weaknesses in a coherent fashion.

Of course, having someone who's broadly disliked advising another person who's broadly disliked is not a recipe for success. Yes, Hillary also suffers from underwater favorability, but that's changing, if this new ABC news poll is any indication. We're still in Hillary's convention bounce window, so let's see what's happening with the polls once the Olympics are finished.

In the meantime, letting Donald be Donald doesn't seem to be a winning strategy.

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