Soon after Donald Trump entered the race, pundits predicted that his campaign would surely collapse quickly and that he would self-destruct. Every time another such prediction was made, somehow Trump managed to stay ahead in the polls, and his crowds grew bigger and bigger.
Now, signs are emerging that Trump’s front-runner status may be coming to a close. The RealClearPolitics average of all polls reveals that although still ahead, his poll numbers are slipping. He is not doing well when matched against Hillary. In a hypothetical Trump vs. Clinton race, Trump comes out ahead of Clinton in only one poll. More importantly, in the Quinnipiac poll, in a presidential race with Trump, Hillary comes out ahead by a margin of + 2, and in a contest with Joe Biden, Biden comes in as winning the national election by + 11.
Conservative commentators have taken note of this. In The Federalist, Robert Tracinski writes that Trump looks “sensitive and thin-skinned.” He makes the point that Trump is now in the same place Rick Perry was in the polls four years ago, and we know how that turned out. In National Review, Charles C.W. Cooke, in a scathing column, writes that Trump has become a whiner “reduced to sterile indignation.” Trump is a man who responds to criticism by threatening law suits, by descending to ad hominem and crude attacks, and, as Cooke writes, by acting like a “rebellious three-year old.” And in Sunday’s Washington Post, George Will says that “nothing is now more virtuous than scrubbing, as soon as possible, the Trump stain from public life.”
Perhaps the turning point was the boos Trump received at the Values Voters Summit when he attacked Marco Rubio :
You have this clown, Marco Rubio, I’ve been so nice to him. I’ve been so nice and then — no, but he’s in favor of immigration and he has been, he has been, it was the ‘Gang of 8’ and you remember the “Gang of 8,” it was terrible.
Trump, who has changed his position on almost everything, is the last person who should be chastising Rubio for moving away from his original position on immigration.
Compare Rubio on foreign policy to Donald Trump. Trump blusters that when he becomes president, he will be able to quickly learn about the important issues facing the country and will put together a first-rate team that will advise him. In the meantime, Trump has famously said, he gets his information from TV. Very reassuring. Rubio has said of Trump’s answers on foreign policy questions that he “has sound bites, not policy proposals.” In contrast, Rubio shows a thorough and well-thought out position on every foreign policy issue. He gives comprehensive and searching answers, and is well equipped to handle any Democratic opponent in a debate.
Trump, moreover, continually makes false charges about virtually everything. Glenn Thrush in Politico notes:
Trump’s stock-in-trade is telling it like it is, but his propensity for telling it like it isn’t has engendered deep distrust — 29 percent of GOP primary voters say they would never vote for him.
When fifty of Trump’s recent statements were fact-checked by PolitiFact, Thrush notes, its editors concluded that three-quarters of them rated as false, partly false, or blatant “pants on fire” lies.
Rubio and John Kasich are slowly making inroads, going up in the polls, and would have more of a chance of winning in a national election than Trump. Indeed, a Kasich-Rubio or Rubio-Kasich ticket would most likely win Ohio and Florida, helping to guarantee a Republican victory. Remember that no Republican has won the presidency without Ohio, a state that could easily go Democratic with Trump or Ted Cruz as the GOP’s nominee.
Trump will lose because when push comes to shove, voters will distrust him as much as or more than they currently distrust Hillary Clinton. Political analyst Henry Olsen writes:
Four bankruptcies, three wives, two parties, one big problem for America. That six-second tagline to an ad sums up why, when the chips are down, the Donald’s getting fired. This mantra will take Trump down because his appeal rests on trust. Voters angry with elites for various reasons trust that Trump will have their backs in office. But the 4-3-2-1 line of attack shows why exactly the opposite is true.
Just as Hillary is being advised to appear more compassionate and human — apparently a difficult task — Trump is obviously being advised to tone down his nasty and condescending insults, but it seems like he can’t help himself.
As we move ahead, I will stick my neck out and predict that Trump will suffer the fate Rick Perry did in 2012. And hence, I cite Perry’s wisdom as he dropped out of the current race, when he warned that Donald Trump is a “cancer upon conservatism.”