Sure, Donald Trump Could Win. Here’s How.

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Paul Waldman asks: “In Britain, cultural resentments won out over stability. Can Donald Trump create the same result here?”

Sure. The odds may be against it, but of course Trump can win in November. Let’s set the stage with the observation that both candidates start with about 45 percent support. Like it or not, that’s where we are right now. Republicans could nominate Donald Duck and he’d start off with 45 percent support. Ditto for Democrats. That said, here’s the most likely path to a Trump victory:

  1. Trump gets smart and dials back the cretinism a bit. It wouldn’t take long for the #NeverTrumpers to fall in line. The key tells would be statements like “He seems to be finally growing into his role,” or “He’s right that we can’t afford three or four Hillary nominees to the Supreme Court.” A few weeks after you hear stuff like this, #NeverTrump will be relegated to the ash heap of history.
  2. Bernie Sanders remains bitter and fails to rally his troops, who remain convinced that Hillary Clinton is a corrupt, corporate shill. So they stay home in a funk instead of working to defeat Trump.
  3. The media continues its practice of giving Trump air time to spread wild lies whenever he wants. This is fairly likely since they still haven’t internalized the corollary to the Lesley Stahl lesson: fact checks don’t matter. Only the loud, confident assertion matters.
  4. Hillary’s email troubles don’t get resolved and continue to dog her throughout the campaign.

None of this relies on any kind of big external event, like a terrorist attack or an economic plunge. It just relies on Trump getting a little smarter and then a few things going his way. It could happen here.

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In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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