Here's how Donald Trump wins this election.
Right now, the electorate is made up of four distinct and relevant groups. They are, in order of size and significance:
- Group 1: Trump Supporters
Trump supporters have a different value system than the media and the political class. Trump speaks to them and to the issues they care about. They will never vote for Hillary Clinton.
- Group 2: Clinton Supporters
Clinton supporters are the political establishment and traditional Democrats. They will never vote for Donald Trump.
- Group 3: #NeverTrump
These are voters that would not normally be in the Clinton camp, but are so mortified by the concept of a Trump presidency that they will vote against him, or not vote at all.
- Group 4: #NeverHillary
These are voters that would not normally vote for Donald Trump (or any Republican), but are so mortified by the concept of a Clinton presidency that they will vote against her, or stay home.
Groups 1 and 2 are secure. Groups 3 and 4 are secure in their intentions, but whether they actually can be mobilized is another thing. Politically speaking, it is much harder to mobilize a group against a thing than for a thing: in general, the thing that motivates people against it must be way worse than the thing motivating people in support of it is good, often by a factor of 2 or 3.
All Donald Trump has to do is, by Election Day, be just good enough for Group 3 to stay home and bet that in a race between Group 1 and Group 2, Group 1 will win.
If the media succeeds in creating an equivalency between Trump and Hillary, and the NeverTrumpers lose enthusiasm, Trump wins.