Trump stands on the stage at his rallies and cherrypicks the few polls that show him as competitive, or he repeats conspiracy theories based on twisting of Wikileaks emails about how “oversampling” is distorting results for the polls where he’s far behind. The idea that the polls are “skewed” toward Hillary Clinton is at the heart of Trump’s claim that any loss on his part is a sure sign of election fraud. After all, if Trump doesn’t win Pennsylvania, etc. etc.
However, the truth is that Donald Trump knows he is losing.
Despite Trump’s claim that he doesn’t believe the polls, his San Antonio research team spends $100,000 a week on surveys (apart from polls commissioned out of Trump Tower) and has sophisticated models that run daily simulations of the election. The results mirror those of the more reliable public forecasters—in other words, Trump’s staff knows he’s losing. Badly. “Nate Silver’s results have been similar to ours,” says Parscale, referring to the polling analyst and his predictions at FiveThirtyEight, “except they lag by a week or two because he’s relying on public polls.”
Trump is fully aware of his position, and of his very likely defeat. He knows—knows from his own campaign—that it’s not any sort of election fraud taking him down. It’s simply the will of the voters.
So why keep pressing the “it’s rigged” button? A big part is due to what Trump is planning for after the election.
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“Trump will get 40 percent of the vote, and half that number at least will buy into his claim that the election was rigged and stolen from him,” says Steve Schmidt, John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign chief and an outspoken Trump critic. “That is more than enough people to support a multibillion-dollar media business and a powerful presence in American politics.”
Donald Trump isn’t running to be president of the United States. He’s campaigning to head an ongoing low-boil insurrection and traveling tent revival of hate.
There’s really no choice for Trump. He’s made his bigoted bed, and now he has to lie in it.
There are signs that Trump’s presidential run has dealt a serious blow to his brand. His inflammatory comments about Mexican “rapists” and demeaning comments about women triggered a flood of busted deals and lost partnerships. Macy’s stopped making Trump-branded menswear, Serta halted its line of mattresses emblazoned with his logo, and celebrity chefs fled his new luxury hotel in Washington. Booking websites show that visits to Trump-branded hotels are down. Win or lose, Trump’s future may well lie in capitalizing on the intense, if limited, political support he has cultivated over the past year.
Donald Trump has always been a scam artist, moving from one big lie to the next before the last could catch up with him. The luxury hotel thing? That’s so last year.
Trump as a tacky amalgam of Jim Bakker and Boris Johnson is the latest gig. Until he comes up with a better scam.