Trump’s elec­toral map look­ing worse than Rom­ney’s

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY SETH MCLAUGH­LIN

Don­ald Trump’s elec­toral map looks worse than Mitt Rom­ney’s did four years ago at this point in the race, up­end­ing the bil­lion­aire busi­ness­man’s claim that his un­ortho­dox ap­peal would be able to put new states in play for the GOP.

He has done just that — only it’s mostly been in the wrong di­rec­tion, leav­ing him strug­gling to win states that have been deep red for gen­er­a­tions.

Political hand­i­cap­pers now say Mr. Trump could end up with fewer elec­toral col­lege votes than Mr. Rom­ney — who lost to Pres­i­dent Obama by a 332-206 mar­gin, and whom Mr. Trump has de­scribed as a “stone cold loser” and a “choke artist.”

“There was a lot of blus­ter from the Trump cam­paign early on about play­ing in New York and Cal­i­for­nia, but the re­al­ity is much dif­fer­ent,” said Nathan Gonzales of the Rothen­berg & Gonzales Political Re­port, a non­par­ti­san group that tracks elec­tions.

The good news for Mr. Trump is that he ap­pears to be on stronger foot­ing than Mr. Rom­ney was in Iowa and Ohio, ac­cord­ing to re­cent polling av­er­ages.

The bad news is he is worse off in Colorado, Florida, Michigan, New Hamp­shire, North Carolina, Penn­syl­va­nia, Wis­con­sin and Vir­ginia, and also is putting out fires in Ge­or­gia and Ari­zona, which have been GOP strongholds. Even in Utah, one of the most con­ser­va­tive states in the coun­try, GOP dom­i­na­tion is threat­ened by the emer­gence of third-party can­di­dates.

The Univer­sity of Vir­ginia’s Cen­ter for Pol­i­tics cur­rently has Mrs. Clin­ton win­ning 341 elec­toral votes com­pared to 197 for Mr. Trump. Mr. Gonzales’ out­fit paints a sim­i­lar pic­ture, show­ing Mrs. Clin­ton is lead­ing Mr. Trump by a 279-to-191 vote mar­gin, with 68 more elec­toral votes up for grabs in Florida, Iowa, North Carolina and Ohio.

“Any Repub­li­can has a nar­row path, and Rom­ney had a path that in­cluded states such as Colorado and Vir­ginia, Ohio and Florida, but Trump has been un­able to repli­cate that map be­cause, I think, Colorado and Vir­ginia are only on the edges of com­pet­i­tive­ness now,” he said.

Mr. Trump had ar­gued he would not only win those states but that he’d re-es­tab­lish Repub­li­cans in the Rust Belt. He’s in­vested a strik­ing amount of time in Penn­syl­va­nia, in par­tic­u­lar.

The Trump cam­paign didn’t re­turn a mes­sage seek­ing com­ment on the lat­est pro­jec­tions, but Mr. Trump him­self, who dur­ing the pri­maries gloated over polls, now tells his sup­port­ers not to pay at­ten­tion to them.

“I don’t even be­lieve the polls,” he said this week, ar­gu­ing his slid­ing num­bers are be­lied by his cam­paign ral­lies, which rou­tinely at­tract thou­sands of en­er­getic sup­port­ers.

“I have a feel­ing this is an­other Brexit,” Mr. Trump said, al­lud­ing to Bri­tain’s vote to leave the European Union this year that shocked many. “I think the me­dia is try­ing to dis­cour­age our peo­ple from get­ting out and vot­ing,” he added.

Mr. Trump’s map ap­peared to shrink ear­lier this month af­ter paid cam­paign staffers were asked to re­lo­cate from Vir­ginia — a re­li­ably red state un­til 2008 — to neigh­bor­ing North Carolina, which voted for Mr. Obama in 2008 but backed Mr. Rom­ney in 2012.

Dick Wad­hams, a GOP op­er­a­tive, said Mr. Trump also faces a heavy lift in Colorado fol­low­ing the re­lease of the au­dio and video record­ings from 2005 in which Mr. Trump boasted about grop­ing women, but that he has since played off as locker room talk.

“Prob­a­bly at this mo­ment he is in a more dif­fi­cult po­si­tion than Rom­ney was three weeks be­fore the elec­tion in 2012, and I think his dif­fi­culty is that this Ac­cess Hol­ly­wood tape prob­a­bly eroded his abil­ity to ap­peal to those all-im­por­tant Repub­li­can and un­af­fil­i­ated women in the Den­ver sub­urbs that are so crit­i­cal in de­ter­min­ing who wins a statewide race,” Mr. Wad­hams said. “I just think he has a re­ally big hill to climb with that part of the elec­torate.”

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