Trump would have no chance of beating Clinton, say latest polls
Donald Trump says he'll be a dynamite general election candidate, winning reliably Democratic states like New York and Pennsylvania and capturing unprecedented "crossover" votes from Democrats and independents. Many other Republicans say he'd be a disaster.
Who's right? As of now, the pessimists. Trump, the best surveys suggest, would be one of the weakest Republican nominees in modern history, one that an otherwise challenged Hillary Clinton could clobber.
In recent polls, she holds double-digit leads over Trump in a general election match-up.
In a Bloomberg poll released on Wednesday, she beats him 54pc to 36pc. This reflects his weaknesses more than her strengths, and raises serious doubt about claims he'd do well among independents, working-class Democrats and married women.
In the four-day Bloomberg survey, 68pc of the respondents had an unfavourable view of Trump against 29pc who regard him favourably. That 39-point gap is huge.
Hillary Clinton, by contrast, is also regarded more negatively than positively - but only by 9 percentage points, with 53pc viewing her unfavourably and 44pc favourably.
The case for a Trump victory in the autumn is that he'd bring out new, alienated voters and would win over disaffected white Democrats and independents and others, including married women, who admire his strength. This, the theory goes, would offset losses among African-American and Latino voters.
In the Bloomberg poll, conducted by J. Ann Selzer, Clinton beats Trump among independents, a bloc where she has done poorly in the primaries, 54pc to 34pc. Mitt Romney, the Republican loser of the 2012 presidential election by four points, carried independents 50pc to 45pc.
As for Democrats, here's the problem: the working class, white so-called Reagan Democrats who supposedly are drawn to Trump mostly aren't Democrats any more. And the working class isn't as white. Among all voters making less than $50,000 a year, Obama beat Romney, 60pc to 38pc. In the Bloomberg poll this week, Clinton's lead over Trump is wider among this group.
Trump's problems with women cross racial lines. Romney carried white women in 2012. In the Selzer survey, though, white women preferred Clinton to Trump by a margin of 50pc to 40pc.
Occasionally, a presidential candidate does enlarge and even slightly alter the electorate. Ronald Reagan did it in 1980 as did Barack Obama in 2008.
More often, promises to do that are the cries of candidates about to lose. Think of Barry Goldwater in 1964 and George McGovern in 1972.
As of today, and if he's the nominee, Donald Trump is likely to join the Goldwater-McGovern ranks.