If you’ve visited any political website or news channel in the last week, you’ve heard a lot about polls. The media is going nuts over a recent set of post-convention polls that suggest Hillary Clinton has surged past Donald Trump. If you believe the polls and the media, Trump’s campaign is in a bleak place, but can he recover?
Let’s look at the polls and see what they’re telling us. The majority of the polls that have come out recently have shown Clinton with a sizeable advantage over Trump nationally, and in crucial swing states. The RCP average (which recently had Trump in the lead) now shows Clinton having a 6.7 point lead over Trump.
It’s worth noting that not all the polls show Hillary with such a big lead. An LA Times poll (updated daily) showed a tie between the two candidates. A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll also showed the two in a tie. So Ms. Clinton’s lead may be a bit exaggerated by some of the polls showing a 10-15 point lead over Trump, but she certainly does have a clear advantage.
Let’s assume the polls showing him significantly behind are accurate. To answer the question, the short answer is that yes he can recover. The more important question is how he does it. I’ll point out some ways that I think Trump can improve his odds of winning the White House.
Focus on Hillary
There’s way too much stuff being talked about, keep it simple and focus on Hillary who–by anyone’s measure–is a very flawed candidate. Trump seems to be heading in this direction with his recent endorsement of House Speaker Paul Ryan and John McCain. If he keeps the focus on his opponent, I think he’ll be much better off.
This is the one thing that I think can give Trump the largest bump in the polls.
He needs to debate, and do it well. Trump has already begun complaining about the debates and he could possibly skip them. His original complaint was that two of the debates were scheduled on NFL game nights. Now, he’s saying that he has to see the conditions of debates first. If Donald wants to win in November, it’s vitally important that he not only participate in the debates, but that he is the decisive winner.
“I want to debate very badly. But I have to see the conditions.”
Trump needs to be preparing for the debates now. He needs to brush up on policy and get ready for the fight of his life. While Hillary may not be the strongest debater, she could very easily trip Trump up. If Trump fails the debates and Hillary is the clear winner, she will win the election.
Ignore GOP defectors
There are a small number of Republicans that are jumping ship and either supporting Hillary or Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. I believe the best course of action in these cases is to simply not pay them much attention.
Stay on message
Lately the Republican nominee has been getting in trouble for his off the cuff remarks. Though some of these incidents are inescapable, Trump can minimize them by staying on message with a clear, detailed plan for how exactly he is going to make America great, again.
In conclusion, I think the most important things the GOP nominee can do is stay on message, and most importantly, crush Hillary at the debates. Trump certainly can move the polls in his favor before the debates, but I think currently, the main opportunity to bolster his support is to perform well in the debates.
[Photo via Matt Johnson / Flickr]