You know that brief, tissue-thin lead in the RCP average that Trump took last week on the strength of a five-point “win” in the no-longer reliable Rasmussen survey?  They gave themselves a mulligan that has put Mrs. Clinton back in front by a nostril:

Polling Data

Poll Date Sample MoE
Clinton (D)
Trump (R)
Spread
RCP Average 5/13 – 5/24 43.8 42.8 Clinton +1.0
Rasmussen Reports 5/23 – 5/24 1000 LV 3.0 40 39 Clinton +1
ABC News/Wash Post 5/16 – 5/19 829 RV 3.5 44 46 Trump +2
NBC News/Wall St. Jrnl 5/15 – 5/19 1000 RV 3.1 46 43 Clinton +3
FOX News 5/14 – 5/17 1021 RV 3.0 42 45 Trump +3
CBS News/NY Times 5/13 – 5/17 1109 RV 3.0 47 41 Clinton +6

Amazing what a three-point correction in one survey does to that overall average, huh?

But that’s minimalist noise at the margins.  Here’s the noteworthy report today that will have Trumplicans bursting their capillaries, whether in fear or anger or more likely both:

Donald Trump trails Hillary Clinton by seven percentage points among middle-income voters in the Rust Belt, a key demographic he almost certainly needs to become president.

Likely voters with annual family incomes of $30,000 to $75,000 in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin back [Mrs.] Clinton over Trump, 46% to 39%, the latest Purple Slice online poll for Bloomberg Politics shows.

The findings should sound an alarm for Trump because they show he’s failing—at least so far—to dominate among the sort of voters thought to be more sympathetic to him. The poll also splashes cold water on suggestions that the real-estate developer and TV personality is well positioned to win in the Rust Belt.

The Rust Belt path holds that if Trump can hold the States Mitt Romney won in 2012 and add these four upper midwest States to the GOP “pile,” he’ll get to 270 Electoral Votes and win the election.  But he’s not even close in any of them – under 40% – and is looking like a loser in several of those aforementioned Romney States like Arizona, North Carolina, and Georgia.

And in case you were wondering, the Bloomberg survey is no outlier.  From the RCP State averages:

MICHIGAN: Rodham 49.3%, Trump 37.0%

OHIO: Rodham 42.7%, Trump 41.3%

PENNSYLVANIA: Rodham 47.0%, Trump 41.7%

WISCONSIN: Rodham 47.3%, Trump 35.8%

The four-State average is Rodham 46.6%, Trump 39.0% – or a 7.6% margin.  And he’s got to take ALL FOUR for the Rust Belt strategy to work.

That is highly unlikely, given The Donald’s intractable polling negatives across the board:

The news isn’t all good for Hillary in this poll. Despite the natural Democrat advantage in these States — the last time any of them except Ohio went for a Republican presidential nominee was in 1988 — Hillary’s favorables are still negative at 42/56. Trump scores worse at 34/64, while Obama — who won all four of these States twice — only gets a 50/49 despite an uptick in his national job approval ratings. Bernie Sanders has the best favorability rating of anyone mentioned at 55/41.

Also, if Trump is considering Newt Gingrich as his running mate for this Rust Belt-o-rama, forget it — he has a worse favorability rating than Trump at 23/58.

The key to this result comes in the personal-qualities measures. Trump scores well on changing the way Washington does business (50/22), but middle-income voters think Hillary will fight harder for the middle class (43/29), cares more about people like themselves (39/26), and understands their challenges (38/27) than Trump by substantial margins. On presidential temperament, Trump loses badly (22/49), as well as on foreign-policy skills (22/54). [emphases added]

All together now and one more time from the top: Most voters don’t like Hillary Clinton, but they detest Donald Trump.

How does he ostensibly turn these death-knelling numbers around?  The very boring GOTV organizing and ground game that he continues to spurn, or outsource to the RNC as an afterthought, the absence of which cost John McCain and Mitt Romney the presidency in the previous two cycles:

To win in these States, the Trump campaign has to make itself relevant to voters at the local level. As I wrote in my book Going Red, voters in swing States don’t make emotional connections to thirty thousand-foot messaging and big rallies. That comes through localized, peer-to-peer politics that build emotional connections to the national campaign by contextualizing it into the lives of the voters and their communities. Mitt Romney and John McCain tried the thirty thousand-foot model and ended up on the wrong end of the “cares about you” question by wide margins, and the elections as a result.

In order to take States and demographics away from Democrats — either on the Rust Belt path or on the more traditional swing-State model in Going Red — the Republican candidate has to outfight Democrats at that level where Democrats have succeeded for at least two straight presidential cycles, and in three of these four States for a lot longer than that. Until Trump runs that kind of campaign, then the Rust Belt model won’t work for him any better than the 2012 swing-State model will.

And that’s not the kind of campaign Trump wants to run, because it’s boring and takes the spotlight off of him and he doesn’t think it’s necessary because he won 11.5 million votes in the primaries, didn’t he?  How’s that any different from winning six times that many in the general, right?

And also because he’s a coiffed, conceited moron.

When Trump goes down in flames in November, it will be because of nobody else, first and foremost, but Donald J. Trump, and the ex-conservative idiots who inflicted him on the GOP.

Funny that one of his long-time and closest friends will be the primary beneficiary, huh?

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