By Robert A. Vella
Political analysts are expressing caution in reading too much from post-convention public opinion polls, but one thing is abundantly clear at this point in the 2016 presidential election campaign. The increasingly irrational GOP candidate, Donald Trump, is alienating virtually every facet of the American electorate except for his most ardent supporters. And, it is among the demographic group most vital to his hopes for victory that Trump is now losing favor with – white working class Midwesterners.
These disaffected and often disgruntled voters from western Pennsylvania to Wisconsin have been decimated by decades of neoliberal economic policies enacted by both major political parties. They are profoundly anti-establishment, susceptible to the kind of nationalistic and xenophobic rhetoric employed by Trump, and passionately seeking a strong savior-like champion to lead them out of their real and imagined abyss. In the primaries, these voters flocked to the populist appeal of both Trump and Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders (whose rhetoric was equally anti-establishment, though neither nationalistic nor xenophobic). Electorally, these Midwestern swing states have held a disproportionate amount of influence in deciding American presidential elections for a very long time. It is said, for example, that Republicans cannot win the White House without Ohio.
Until his latest megalomaniacal rants against almost everyone and everything under the sun, The Donald had at least pulled even with Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton in most of the polling. Now, she has taken a commanding lead over him particularly in those Midwestern states. Analysis suggests that two general trends are occurring. Trump’s irrationality is: 1) driving white working class voters towards third-party candidates (e.g. Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party), and 2) consolidating Hillary’s support among Sanders voters.
Although Trump still has time left to reverse the damage he has caused to his campaign, there is little indication that he even wants to.