Trump’s Path To Victory Depends On Surge Of White Men

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump needs a surge of white working-class voters to beat Hillary Clinton in November.

Clinton has significant leads over Trump among minority voters and women, and is handily defeating him with white college-educated women.

That puts pressure on Trump to win white men like no other candidate in recent history.

Trump believes his anti-trade, anti-immigration message will be popular with white, working-class voters in Pennsylvania and Ohio, and that it could help him compete in other Rust Belt states such as Michigan and Wisconsin.

His electoral strategy revolves around winning Pennsylvania, something the Republican nominee hasn’t done since 1988. Michigan and Wisconsin have also been reliably Democratic states for decades.

Trump would seem to face tough prospects.  

Ford O’Connell, a GOP strategist who worked on Arizona Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, thinks Trump has to win 63 percent of the white vote, a higher share than 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney won.

“He needs to perform 4 percent better among white voters than Romney did,” said O’Connell, who predicts white voters will make up around 70 percent of November’s electorate.

Read more from Alexander Bolton at The Hill

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Has GOP Found The Blueprint For Beating Tea Party Pols?

Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp's surprising primary defeat Tuesday at the hands of a candidate who was backed by the Republican establishment could serve as a blueprint for future efforts to oust Tea Party members in GOP primaries.

While Huelskamp's race was characterized by attacks on his handling of issues specific to his rural congressional district, the success of efforts to frame a deeply conservative lawmaker as a Washington insider could embolden the groups who ousted Huelskamp to try the same tactics on other members who have bucked party leadership.

Tom Davis, former Virginia congressman and former chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, believes such an approach could work again.

But after the election, Republicans will likely hold fewer House seats in total, as Democrats are actively targeting more than a dozen seats presently held by GOP members. A winnowed-down GOP conference could allow the Freedom Caucus members to exert even more influence over the remaining majority.

"I do think that the Freedom Caucus, if they manage to keep the rest of their numbers, they're going to have more influence," said Ford O'Connell, a Republican strategist.

However, O'Connell said the factors of Huelskamp's race were too unique to translate easily to other primaries.

"I think this is more of a perfect storm," he said of the confluence of local interests and outside money the fueled Huelskamp's ouster.

"This could be replicated, but I'm not expecting this to be anything more than a one-off or an outlier at best," O'Connell added.

Read more from Sarah Westwood at The Washington Examiner

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Trio Of Resignations Continues DNC Turmoil Over Emails

The fallout over leaked emails continues at the Democratic National Committee, as three more resignations yesterday followed last week’s stunning exit of former chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz — an ongoing sore point for Bernie Sanders backers as nominee Hillary Clinton’s camp tries to woo them.

“It’s clear that Hillary Clinton and the DNC are trying to turn the page,” said GOP strategist Ford O’Connell. “But the more that comes out, the harder it is going to be for them to bring the diehard Sanders supporters into the Clinton fold.”

Yesterday the DNC announced the departures of CEO Amy Dacey, Chief Finance Officer Brad Marshall and Communications Director Luis Miranda, one week after emails released by WikiLeaks revealed apparent favoritism for Clinton during the primary. In one email, Marshall suggested using Sanders’ religious beliefs against him. He later apologized.

The Clinton campaign downplayed the resignations.

Read more from Kimberly Atkins at the Boston Herald

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Senate Block On Garland Fails To Get A Mention At DNC

Merrick Garland got shut out.

Democrats still insist that President Obama’s pick to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat will be a major factor for voters in November — but the party’s top leaders didn’t mention him during hours of prime-time speeches at their national convention last week.

Several mentioned the importance of the Supreme Court, but Judge Garland wasn’t even a footnote to those speeches, with leaders potentially forgoing their best chance to turn his confirmation into a voting issue.

Democrats insist that voters do care about Judge Garland, whose nomination has been held up for months. Republicans say the next president should have the power to choose the next Supreme Court justice.

Republican Party strategist Ford O’Connell said the problem for Democrats is that most voters know little about the Supreme Court and the delay in acting on Judge Garland’s nomination is not the electoral winner they thought it would be.

“So this is not an oversight. They just realize it is not an effective argument to rally their troops,” he said.

Read more from David Sherfinski at The Washington Times

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Abdul-Jabbar Dribbles Into Social Politics At DNC

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the basketball legend and social activist, is expected to speak on Hillary Clinton’s behalf Thursday on the final night of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, bolstering a key element of the Democratic presidential nominee’s political platform.

Clinton is presenting herself as a champion of social justice, with a focus on achieving full equality for women in the workplace, LGBT individuals and minority groups. Clinton invited some of the sports world’s most prominent social advocates, including Jason Collins, the NBA’s first openly gay active player, and Abdul-Jabbar, one of the country’s preeminent voices on racial justice, to speak at the DNC this week.

“For Hillary, the idea here is to put out sports stars that can help her recreate the Obama coalition while also pushing forth the idea that Hillary is a game changer, because like these folks, she’s trying to break the glass ceiling,” Ford O’Connell, a conservative political analyst and Republican strategist, told FOXBusiness.com.

Read more from Thomas Barrabi at Fox Business.com

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Donald Trump's Acceptance Speech: America Is Scary But Fixable

It's scary out there.

Donald Trump painted a foreboding picture Thursday of an America adrift as he accepted the Republican presidential nomination with a sober speech in Cleveland.

He invoked a nation imprisoned by its own rotten political establishment and clawing special interests, at risk from terrorists who could be disguised as Syrian refugees and stalked by tens of thousands of illegal immigrant criminals.

Trump has demonstrated a knack for channeling the nation's mood. His convention message is tailored for a country grappling with mounting anxiety over a rash of terror attacks at home and abroad, and a feeling that something is badly wrong after a spate of shootings of police officers, rising racial tensions and a globalized economy that has left many Americans behind. Trump's speech may have hit on a message that could propel him to the presidency.

The question now, as Republican delegates head home and the political circus decamps to Philadelphia for Hillary Clinton's anointing by Democrats next week, is whether Trump did what he needed to do in Cleveland.

Ford O'Connell, a Republican strategist, said that notwithstanding Cruz's intervention on Wednesday, Trump succeeded in pulling together the Republican Party, which initially viewed him with suspicion around him.

"I think that he united the base," O'Connell said, arguing that Trump needed to ensure that more than 90% of GOP voters showed up in November if he has a chance to win the election.

Read more from Stephen Collinson at CNN

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House Republicans’ Agenda A Hard Sell To Convention Delegates

House Republicans were counting on their own agenda to help put some distance between themselves and Donald Trump, but their six-plank plan, which Speaker Paul D. Ryan and fellow leaders released last month with great fanfare inside the Beltway, has landed with a thud elsewhere.

The lack of impact so far for the House Republican agenda is a challenge for Mr. Ryan and his troops, who are hoping their plans outlining an Obamacare replacement, calling for repairing the tax code and proposing limits on government regulations will give them campaign platforms.

Mr. Ryan made a pitch for the agenda in his address to the convention Tuesday, saying Republican Donald Trumpwould be more likely to sign their plans into law than would Democrat Hillary Clinton.

“The Donald doesn’t like to tether himself to the ideas of others,” said Ford O’Connell, a Republican Party strategist.

Read more from Tom Howell Jr. at The Washington Times

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Polls Suggest Clinton-Trump Race Tightening

A slew of new polls released on Wednesday indicate a tightening race for the White House and suggest Donald Trump is closing the gap with Hillary Clinton in several swing states.

An NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll found the two tied in Ohio with each getting 39 percent. In Iowa, it showed Clinton with a three-point lead, outpacing Trump 42 percent to 39 percent.

In Pennsylvania, the NBC poll found Clinton holding a larger, nine-point lead in a must-win state for Trump, but a different poll released earlier on Wednesday from Quinnipiac University showed Trump with a two-point lead. 

Quinnipiac also had Trump up by three points in Florida, a significant change from its poll of a month ago that represented a double-digit uptick for the Republican.

Both polls had the two tied in Ohio. Many believe the state is a must-win for Trump, given the fact that no Republican candidate has ever won the White House without winning the Buckeye State.

While the totality of the polling suggest Clinton is still the favorite to get to 270 electoral votes, they also suggested she might have been hurt by the past week. 

Trump’s path to success lies in convincing swing state voters, especially independents, that the election is a referendum on Clinton’s trustworthiness, said Ford O’Connell, a strategist who supports the presumptive GOP nominee.

“He’s doing extremely well with independents, and if he can keep that going, he’s in great shape because what I think a lot of people misperceive about independents, they are not necessarily moderate voters, they are Republicans and Democrats who both think that the parties have left them behind,” O’Connell said. 

“And what he has to do if he wants to capitalize on that is find a way to get in the driver's seat and essentially make this a referendum, not on himself which is what Hillary’s done so far but make it on her or what they perceive is a rigged system.”

Read more from Harper Neidig at The Hill

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GOP Not In Partying Mood For Cleveland

Republicans won’t be in a partying mood when they gather in Cleveland next week to nominate Donald Trump for president.

GOP aides and lobbyists say there has been a big drop-off in invitations, compared with past presidential conventions, with many establishment Republicans and corporations shunning the event.

The angry populist wave that fueled Trump’s rise has scared corporations away from Cleveland, with many afraid to associate their brands with his controversial — and unpredictable — style of politics.

The shooting of 12 police officers, five fatally, during a protest in Dallas last week underscored for many Republicans and potential corporate sponsors the possibility for unrest in Cleveland.

Many of the companies and firms that will be on hand for the convention have decided to lay low by not hosting parties.

“Corporate brands are always worried about any misperceptions that may happen as a result of either convention, but particularly with what’s going on between Dallas and Trump,” said Ford O’Connell, a GOP strategist who worked on Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) 2008 presidential campaign.

But just because corporations won’t be plastering their logos on sponsored parties doesn’t mean they won’t have a presence in Cleveland.

“At the same time, even though you’re not seeing their specific names on stuff like you’ve seen in the past, they’re going to be right there,” O’Connell said. “All they’re doing is saying, ‘We’re not part of it,’ but that doesn’t mean they don’t want a seat at the table and the ability to shape policy.”

Read more from Alexander Bolton at The Hill

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Why Gingrich Could Be The Ideal Running Mate For Trump

Vice President Newt Gingrich. It has a certain ring to it, especially if you are Mr. Gingrich. And clearly, the former speaker of the House would love to be Donald Trump’s running mate.

Gingrich has acknowledged that he’s being vetted for the job, and is widely seen as a top prospect. Mr. Trump is expected to announce his choice this week, ahead of the Republican National Convention, which opens July 18.  

“They can sing from the same hymn book,” says Republican strategist Ford O’Connell.

As Trump considers whom to pick – Indiana’s low-key governor and former House member, Mike Pence, is another reported finalist – personal rapport also looms large. Trump is a “relationship guy,” says Mr. O’Connell.

Read more from Linda Feldmann at The Christian Science Monitor

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