It is impossible for Donald Trump in November. And if he does win, it will be a complete and total disaster.
That’s the firm opinion of most of my friends who live inside Washington’s notorious beltway.
For my friends who aren’t so close to the nation’s Capitol, those conclusions are not so clear.
Many believe that Trump will win in a landslide. Others look forward to the billionaire shaking things up and bringing needed change to our political system.
I am caught somewhere in the middle.
I believe it is very difficult for Trump to win in November for two reasons.
First, there is the candidate himself. He is a political rookie playing in the Big Leagues without ever setting foot in the minor leagues. He has a history of saying things that are offensive to women, Muslims, Hispanics, African-Americans. He doesn’t have a campaign structure in place yet and hasn’t raised much money. He is seen as a narcissist who doesn’t have the right temperament to lead the country.
Second, there is the demographic map. Republicans have won the general election popular vote only once in the last seven elections. The Democratic coalition is growing while the GOP base is just growing older and whiter. The Democrats have a stranglehold on big states with a lot of electoral votes, like California, New York and Illinois. Because of changing demographics, Florida, Virginia and North Carolina, usually reliably Republican, are looking more challenging for the GOP. Even Texas might be in play this time around.
And yet, one big truth gives me some pause.
This is a change election. Which candidate best represents change and which candidate embodies the status quo?
Donald Trump, despite all of his flaws, is an agent of change. Hillary Clinton is a Washington fixture, a former First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State who has made her career and millions of dollars by living and working in this city.
Her career is what the forces of change most want changed. The American people are sick and tired of the political class self-dealing itself all the best cards while leaving them out in the cold.
From a demographic perspective, Trump has to win record numbers among white voters, he has to do better than Romney among black and Hispanic voters and he has to improve his standing among women voters, which is now at toxic levels.
Is it possible? Well, anything is possible but at this juncture it seems improbable
Would Donald Trump be a disaster as President?
It’s hard to know. It’s highly unlikely that the Washington bureaucracy will bend to his will immediately upon his arrival in the White House.
He won’t be able to implement his Muslim ban because it is unconstitutional on its face. He won’t succeed in deporting millions of illegal immigrants because the economy would collapse as a result. The wall that he talks about incessantly is already being built in the places where it needs to be built and not being built in places where it is not necessary.
The Congress would likely unite with the Judicial branch to limit him when he overreaches.
Will he get us involved in a nuclear war? With who? He and Vladimir Putin are personally close, so it is highly unlikely that we would get into a shooting war with the Russians. The Chinese don’t have the capacity to compete with us in a nuclear showdown, so that too seems extremely unlikely. And Trump rejects the notion of America as a global policeman, which means it is far less likely that we would get involved in any others wars on purpose.
Trump would most likely spend the bulk of his time on the economy and on freeing the business sector from the maze of regulations that inhibits economic growth. That’s what he knows, from his years of experience in the private sector. On those economic issues, he will find willing partners with the Congressional Republican leadership.
There is little evidence in his private life that Trump is the racist or fascist that the intelligentsia have accused him of being. But if he doesn’t respond more effectively to those charges, he will be in big trouble in the general election.
There is still a chance that Donald Trump could win this November but it is look less and less likely the more the campaign stretches on. And the world won’t end if by some miracle he pulls it off.
John Feehery is President of Communications and Director of Government Affairs for Quinn Gillespie and Associates, Washington, D.C.’s top public affairs firm. He is also a frequent commentator on the political landscape, widely quoted around the country and often seen on such television programs as CNN’s The Situation Room, MSNBC’s Hardball, and Bloomberg Television’s Money and Politics. He is also a columnist for The Hill and a regular contributor to Political Storm.