THE PUBLIC EYE:Trump’s Traps

Bob Burnett
Friday September 09, 2016 - 01:27:00 PM

As the 2016 presidential election enters its final phase, Hillary Clinton has a slight lead over Donald Trump. While it’s still possible for Trump to win, this is unlikely to happen because of four traps he has set for himself. 

The latest Huffington Post Poll of Polls shows Clinton leading Trump by five percentage points. The current NBC news poll shows Clinton with 272 electoral votes versus 174 for Trump. 

On November 8th Trump will lose because of four traps: 

1. Alienating people-of-color. Given Trump’s history as a “birther” and his track record of discriminating against African-Americans, it’s no surprise that Trump is losing the black vote; one poll shows him with zero support. 

Nonetheless, Trump could have garnered some Hispanic support if he had taken a more traditional Republican position on immigration. Instead Trump chose to take an extreme position, calling Mexican immigrants “killers and rapists.” Even when give a chance to moderate his position on what to with the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the US, Trump time and again has taken the stance: “They all have to leave.” Predictably, Hispanic voters have turned against Trump. The most recent poll shows Clinton getting 70 percent of the Latino vote and Trump getting 19 percent. This has put Trump behind in the polls in Colorado, Florida, and Nevada; and it has put into play once safe Republican states such as Arizona and Texas. 

2. Alienating women. Pew Research estimates that 31 percent of the 2016 electorate will be “Hispanic, black, Asian, or another racial or ethnic minority.” Trump is not only losing with these voters, he is also losing with women. According to 2012 presidential-election-exit polls, 53 percent of voters were women. 

Trump has a history of misogyny. As a consequence, female voters favor Clinton. A recent poll found that women favor Clinton over Trump by 24 percentage points. 

3. Disdaining to raise money. Trump began the Republican primary season by proclaiming that he was the ultimate outsider and bragging that he would self fund his campaign. Once he secured the Republican nomination, he kept the outsider mantle but announced (sotto voce) that he would accept donations from his adherents. 

Trump’s problem is that he isn’t willing – or able – to pay for his entire presidential campaign and he hasn’t raised enough money to keep up with Hillary Clinton. The result is a campaign that is massively underfunded. As of August 22nd, Clinton’s combined campaign had raised $435 million and Trump’s combined campaign had raised $137 million. (For the month of August, Clinton reported raising $143 million while Trump just reported raising approximately $90 million.) 

Trump’s inability to match Clinton is due to three factors. First, because he is an outsider, he has not attracted traditional Republican mega-donors. Second, Trump doesn’t seem as motivated to raise money as Clinton is; typically, whenever Clinton flies somewhere to give a speech, she also finds time to hold a fundraiser – Trump doesn’t do this. And finally, Trump believes that he can run his campaign on the cheap because he is such a well-known media personality. 

4. Believing he can run an unconventional campaign, Trump believes that he is “the smartest guy in the room” and, therefore, doesn’t need to rely upon seasoned campaign professionals to run a conventional campaign. For example, Trump isn’t running national TV ads because he believes that he generates the same amount of news with his daily campaign activities (plus his use of Twitter). Thus Clinton is outspending Trump on TV advertising. (NPR reported that, in 7 battleground states, Clinton is outspending Trump by $127 million to $18 million.) 

Trump is also being outspent on field operations in swing states. For example, The New York Times reported that Trump’s Ohio field operations were late getting started and are underfunded: he has 15 offices in Ohio and 70 paid organizers; in contrast, Clinton has 35 field offices and 170 paid organizers. (And Ohio is the swing state where Trump has the most mature field operation.) 

At the moment, Clinton leads Trump in all the swing states – except for Iowa. Trump continues to disparage a conventional get-out-the-vote effort, but many experts believe this can generate a voter differential of several percentage points on election day. 

Bottom line: Trump is going to lose because he is alienating critical voting blocks, underfunding his campaign, and ignoring the importance of get-out-the-vote field operations. Traps he set for himself because of his personality disorder. 

Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer. He can be reached at