There were some "shocking" polls that came out recently which had Trump and Clinton virtually tied in Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania. This led to a good deal of widespread panic and attempts by the explainers at 538 to calm down the establishment and convince them that this doesn't necessarily mean that Trump will actually be successful in November.
Of course I went on the record here a couple of weeks ago and wrote that I think Trump will win the general election. Here's some thoughts on why I think we're seeing that play out:
1. Trump understands the game
One of his main strengths that he uses to his advantage over the other politicians is that he embraces the fact that this is all theatre and gamesmanship. Politicians are always trying to stick each other with labels that will sting, Trump has taken that to a new level with his hilarious nicknames like "Crooked Hillary," "Goofy Elizabeth Warren," and "Lyin Ted."
Cruz's biggest problem is that he is a lawyer who thinks like a lawyer and is always trying to use different tricks and strategies to win votes that he knows he can't win through pure charisma. He set himself up to ride the "Tea Party" movement and be the "Trust-Ted" candidate for conservatives by taking a dozen principled stands in the Senate to gain attention and trust from conservatives. However, because he's not charismatic and transparently lawyerly, "Lyin Ted" stuck to him really well because he always gives off the impression that he's trying to pull tricks on people.
"Goofy Elizabeth Warren" is a nasty way to undercut how seriously that woman obviously takes herself as some kind of champion of every fringe group in the country. "Crooked Hillary" triggers everyone to always remember how shady Clinton and all of her dealings always are.
You also see Trumps' gamesmanship in the way he'll pivot on issues and avoid giving clear policy details. Every American who's followed more than one election knows that the candidates ALWAYS give precise policy details that NEVER actually match what they'll do in office. What's more, most voters don't give a rip about precise details unless a candidate is caught lying about them. Like when George Bush promised not to raise taxes, or Obama promised we'd get to keep our doctors.
There's little upside or point in giving out precise details, so Trump focuses on big principles he intends to follow when enacting policy and he'll pivot or move around as needed. All politicians do this, but Trump does it transparently. His persona is built on being able to be transparent about flip-flopping or playing the game so he gets away with it.
You can expect Clinton to waste a good deal of time and money trying to hammer Trump on various flip flops only to see it totally fail to have any impact.
2. Trump is forming an "alt-center"
This came from Steve Sailer (or one of his commenters) to describe the position Trump is staking out. Essentially the "alt" part is to push a nationalist agenda as opposed to a globalist one. As a whole, Trump embraces some socialist-style policies and has approved of a single-payer healthcare system in the past and is now pivoting to welcome a potential rise in the minimum wage and higher taxes on the richest Americans.
For those reasons, he's not exactly a right-winger even though some of his positions have recently only been found on the far right wing (like on immigration).
What Trump is actually pushing for is modern national-socialism. This political philosophy is most famous for guiding Hitler's 3rd reich, but you could also use it to describe Finland or some of the other Scandinavian nations that American liberals are so enamored with.
The idea is to have some socialist policies but only with the intention of benefitting the nation that makes up the state. Trump's message seems totally twisted and incoherent to people who are used to "conservative Republican" and "liberal democrat' existing as the only two options but his "Americans first" message is actually totally consistent in wanting to push policies that are intended to help Americans rather than any other nation. Some of those policies will end up being fairly liberal.
3. Trump plans to win by stealing Bernie's supporters from the Democratic party
A few weeks ago Trump was making it a point to note that he thought Bernie Sanders was the better candidate than "Crooked Hillary" and setting up Hillary's seemingly inevitable victory to be tainted with the charge that she stole the election from Sanders.
After some of Sanders' recent victories Trump has turned on him some and given him the moniker "Crazy Bernie" because as shocking as this may sound to many of you, Trump would vastly prefer to run against Clinton than Sanders.
Sanders has some supporters that Trump intends to rally to his cause as he builds a majority coalition that can win the presidency and re-define the Republican party. There are fewer voters there that will suit his vision for an "alternative" party (which is why he's starting in the GOP) but he wants them all the same.
So Trump unveils the "Crazy Bernie" with the intention of helping rebuild the narrative that he can't really win or be president and helping Hillary close the deal. After Clinton wins Trump will cozy back up to Sanders' supporters and say "Hey, I also intend to stop America from engaging in more wars, I'll get after these rich people that are supporting Crooked Hillary, and I'll raise the minimum wage. Here's the difference though, I can actually do it."
It's a powerful ploy, should be interesting to see how it plays out. It only needs to work for a share of the Bernie vote, not all of it.
4. The Doomsday scenario and a new electoral map
Check out these 2012 election demographics numbers:
Democrats saw those numbers and declared permanent victory, Republicans saw those numbers and said "we've got to get Hispanics in the party!" What shared assumptions do they have? That assumption is that A) Neither party should be the "white party" and B) America will continue to trek along with globalist policies, open borders, and be an increasingly multi-cultural empire rather than a majority white nation.
However, there's a much easier path to victory for the GOP from looking at those numbers. If a candidate could increase the GOP share of the white vote and increase the share of the male vote while encouraging more American males to vote...well that could set the party up for a lot of victories as well. Especially if the party desisted in turning the US into a multi-cultural state rather than a majority white/Western one. And wouldn't that be a much easier path to take? Of course neither side of the establishment wants to take that path, which is why they never mention it as even existing as a possibility.
Part of Trump's appeal can be understood from the that he's willing to win or lose with America's favorite villain, the white male. Republicans have been running and hiding from being associated with white males for the last few decades, terrified of being called "sexist" or "racist" and losing their chances of running the multi-cultural empire they were helping to build.
Trump is running as the champion of white males, that should have been obvious from Bobby Knight's endorsement and Trump's subsequent landslide victory in the Indiana primary. That's why his support has been so determined and dogged.
With the support of fresh white males plucked from the Bernie Sanders' votes, the old electoral map has to be redrawn because we are now talking about totally new voter coalitions. The Reagan coalition is dead.
As an Alt-Center candidate Trump has a good chance of doing what establishment Republicans have wanted to do for a long time and dominate the "rust belt" and some of the more lily-white states across the midwest and northeast while still maintaining the south and midwest which are full of ABC (anyone but Hillary) voters.
This is the liberal "doomsday" scenario, in which white Americans led by white males coalesce to form a party that is looking to promote their own interests and subsequently destroy a liberal establishment candidate. The fact that this party will probably push some fairly liberal agendas probably won't be as much of a talking point.
You can expect the media and many people to become increasingly panicked and shocked as the Trump campaign continues to over perform against expectations. Hopefully I've helped bring some clarity on what is actually happening.