If Donald Trump were an otherwise normal candidate — with a reasonable knowledge of public policy and no pronounced affection for authoritarian rulers or habit of blurting out overtly misogynistic and racist comments — the Republican Party Establishment would still be in complete meltdown right now over his campaign’s political incompetence. Recent reports have uncovered a slew of hair-raising details about the campaign’s amateur/quasi-nonexistent status. Trump is raising nowhere close to the level of money required to run a modern presidential campaign. His campaign staff is skeletal and lacks the ability to coordinate a message, leading to chaotic setpieces where the entire Democratic Party message apparatus is being countered only by Trump’s personal Twitter account. (Sad!) Trump is wedded to bizarre strategic notions like competing in heavily blue states.
Barring economic calamity the Republican Party as currently constituted is already at a serious disadvantage in the Electoral College. Even a merely competent candidate is an underdog in most circumstances. An unusually, perhaps historically bad candidate is an anvil they really can’t afford. The assumption that fundamentals largely determine presidential elections — itself something of an oversimplification — is premised in part on parties normally running presidential campaigns with a minimum standards of professionalism. All signs point to Trump not meeting those standards. You might be able to get away with that in low-turnout primary elections in a crowded field, but at the presidential level it’s not going to work.
Not only will Trump not have the resources a good presidential campaign needs, he has a strategery of wasting scarce resources trying to flip deep blue states:
He is devoting what few resources he does have to hopeless projects like hiring a pollster to help him win New York, where Republican presidential candidates have failed to reach even 40 percent of the vote in decades.
Trump’s ally and state campaign co-chair Carl Paladino reveals his two-prong plan to overcome their massive party registration deficit:
They will also rely on conventional get-out-the-vote efforts and blanketing the upstate region with signs and bumper stickers.
“Upstate will give us a wave in this election, and my instruction from HQ is really simple. It’s one word: Win,” he said. “And that’s what we intend to do.”
So, prong one: bumper stickers and signs — thousands of them, maybe even millions, so many you cannot walk anywhere in upstate New York without having a Trump sticker get stuck to the bottom of your shoe. The sheer psychological force of this effort will apparently overwhelm the people. And then, prong two: “win.”
Although the plan was apparently conceived by a Western New Yorker, it sounds like something hatched by the kind of person who likes to generalize about “upstate” while thinking that it starts at 86th Street. We’ve been through this before, but for the uninitiated New York is not a state like Washington, where the metropolis and coastal towns swamp the very conservative rural areas. Obama won or was within a point and a half of carrying the vote in every NY congressional district but one in 2012. Even if you exclude the New York City boroughs, Long Island, Westchester and Rockland Obama would have carried the state easily. Plastering Rochester and Syracuse with Trump signs is not going to change that. And as Chait says, one excellent illustration of this is…Carl Paladino, the store-brand version of Trump who got the piss beaten out of him at a time when the GOP was still seriously contesting statewide elections.
So Trump is going to be underfinanced, he’s going to mobilize a large turnout from voters of color, his staffing is amateur hour, and his plans are worse than having no plans at all. His brief spike in the polls has already begun to recede, and the polls don’t account for Clinton being endorsed by Obama and Warren and all-but-endorsed by Sanders yet. Good luck with that.