Trump and the Rust Belt’s Revenge: Dark clouds ahead for Clinton as party members switch sides.

Ari Lieberman,

 It’s been a rough couple of weeks for Donald Trump. The campaign was temporarily sidetracked with ancillary issues involving the ethnicity of a judge presiding over an obscure case that no one really cares about. After scoring significant momentum following his clinching of the GOP nomination, his polling numbers dipped markedly with some polls giving Hillary Clinton a double digit lead. And this week, Nate Silver, who accurately predicted the 2008 and 2012 electoral outcomes, gave Clinton an 80% chance of winning the general election.

But Clinton acolytes should temper their excitement. Those who underestimate Trump’s chances of securing the White House may be in for a rude awakening. Trump is perhaps one of the most resilient personalities in modern American politics who has demonstrated an uncanny ability to overcome insurmountable odds. Time and again he has defied the professional pundits — Nate Silver included — and has accomplished the seemingly impossible. He is anything but conventional and the normal rules of politics do not apply to him and that is precisely why this election cycle is still anyone’s game.

Buttressing this view, a new Quinnipiac University survey released on Wednesday suggests that Trump and Clinton are in a statistical dead heat, with 40 percent supporting Trump and 42 percent backing Clinton. That minor differential is well within the margin of error. Those surveyed saw Trump as being better equipped to deal with the economy and tackle terrorism. He also beat Clinton on leadership and honesty. 

Clinton has been struggling with gaining the trust of voters, who overwhelmingly view her as untrustworthy. The recently released Benghazi report, which highlights Clinton’s role in advancing a fraud, will further tarnish voter’s perceptions of her. The FBI probe of her use of an unsecured bathroom server to send and receive classified emails and the prospect of being charged for related offenses still clouds her campaign and looms over her like an anvil swinging precariously above her head.

But Clinton’s campaign troubles go far beyond trustworthiness and FBI probes. As highlighted by a fascinating piece in Politico, life-long, card-carrying, blue collar Democrats are leaving the party in droves and switching sides. The situation is particularly acute in the Rust Belt where bad trade deals, including NAFTA and eight years of Obama have laid waste to industry and displaced or otherwise negatively impacted hundreds of thousands middle class, union workers, the bread and butter of the Democratic Party.

trumpvoters_small Trump and the Rust Belt's Revenge: Dark clouds ahead for Clinton as party members switch sides.

Many of these blue collar workers, who had previously voted for Obama or Bill Clinton, say they will be voting for Trump in the upcoming election. While some establishment Republicans may have left the party, Trump has galvanized millions of previously disinterested and apathetic voters and convinced them to join the GOP ranks. More ominously for Clinton, he has persuaded a significant number of Democrats to switch sides.

Trump’s message of saving American jobs, restoring America’s manufacturing prowess and creating economic growth resonates with these blue collar voters. Tellingly, Trump was the first candidate from both sides of the political aisle to raise the issue of the Carrier Company at a national debate. In February 2016, Chris Nelson, Carrier’s president of HVAC systems and services for North America announced that the heating, ventilating, air conditioning, and refrigeration system (HVAC) company would be shutting its Indianapolis plant and relocating to Mexico. The move would cost 1,400 American jobs not to mention the closure’s rippling effect on the local economy.

Trump noted that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) while in theory was a good thing, had visited disaster on the American economy and resulted in the decimation of several industries. This is primarily due to unfair business practices employed by those signatory countries benefiting from NAFTA.

Though now she denies it, Clinton is on record as being a strong supporter of NAFTA. Beyond that, Clinton is perceived as an affluent, elitist progressive who is completely detached from the ordinary, middle class, blue collar American worker. She is more concerned with transgender bathrooms and dismantling border controls than she is with the displaced American worker struggling to make ends meet. Her refusal to release the transcripts of her numerous meetings with Wall Street honchos only serves to further discredit her.    

While Clinton proved to be adept at defending a child rapist, her term as senator could best be characterized as lackluster and her tenure as secretary of state could best be summed up as a scandal-ridden failure. And while Trump was directly and indirectly creating thousands of new jobs and spurring economic activity, Clinton spent most of her professional career sponging off the American taxpayer, collecting donations from third world despots and leaching off her husband’s fame. She is an establishment insider, completely indifferent to matters that are of primary importance to the American people — their economic well-being and ability to lead proud and productive lives through honest work.