Friday, September 23, 2016

Watch The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah Accidentally Destroy The Case For Gun Control

By Sean Davis
Thursday, September 22, 2016

Trevor Noah, the host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, accidentally destroyed the case for gun control during his show on Wednesday night.

Noah’s accidental broadside against gun-free zones came during a portion of his opening monologue in which he made fun of a Minnesota man fed up with Islamic terrorism. The target of Noah’s ire was an ice cream shop owner in a small town southeast of St. Cloud, Minnesota — the site of a mass stabbing at a mall last weekend — who put up a sign outside of his restaurant that read, “Muslims Get Out.”

Noah mocked the store owner for a little bit, but then he moved on to the meat of his opening bit by mocking the man’s rationale for his “Muslims Get Out” sign:

You know what’s also strange is this man genuinely thought people who go around blowing people up would be stopped by a sign? You realize you’re talking to terrorists, not vampires. They don’t need to be invited in, alright? Or maybe he’s onto something, because if you think about it, we’ve never tried that. We’ve never actually tried to repel terrorists with signs. Yeah, maybe that’s all the airports need is a sign that says “No Terrorists,” yes? Yeah, and then guys are going to be walking going, “Oh, I was going to blow up the airport, but the rules are rules and they said I can’t come in. They said I can’t. They said I can’t come in.”

Does that argument sound familiar?

Noah probably doesn’t know it, but he just accidentally made an airtight case against gun-free zones in particular and gun control in general. He is 100 percent correct: people hell-bent on murdering as many people as possible don’t really care about silly signs or laws that tell them not to murder people. A sign that says “No Guns” will no more keep a violent jihadi from gunning down a bunch of innocent people than will a sign that says “Muslims Get Out.” And how do we know that gun-free zones, nearly always marked with signs designating them as such, don’t deter murderous psychopaths? Because mass shootings, rather than happening at gun ranges or in gun stores, keep happening in gun-free zones.

Contrary to Trevor Noah’s snarky assertion that “we’ve never tried to repel terrorists with signs,” our country has fecklessly tried for years to “repel terrorists with signs.”

The Sandy Hook massacre? Gun-free zone. Columbine? Gun-free zone. The Aurora movie theater shooting? Gun-free zone. The shooting last year at an Oregon community college? Gun-free zone. The shooting at a movie theater in Lafayette? Gun-free zone. The attack on a military recruiting center in Chattanooga? Gun-free zone. The Ft. Hood shooting? You guessed it: gun-free zone. The San Bernardino attack? Gun-free zone. And the massacre perpetrated by an ISIS enthusiast at an Orlando night club? Gun-free zone.

While Noah clearly doesn’t grasp the logical implications of his argument, his particular insight — that evil people who want to do evil things will find ways to carry out their schemes regardless of what signs you post or laws you pass — forms the foundation of the entire argument against gun control.

Bad people who want to murder you don’t care about your stupid signs and stupid laws.

New York City, for example, is a pressure cooker bomb-free zone. That mall in Minnesota was most definitely a weaponized knife-free zone. And yet… Terrorists don’t care that terrorism is illegal. They care about killing you. And they’ll kill you with whatever they can, whether it’s a gun, a knife, a pressure cooker, or a box cutter.

“Yeah, but this just proves we need to have stricter gun laws to prevent terrorists from getting guns in the first place,” Trevor Noah might respond. “Gun control is about more than just signs telling people not to do stuff.”

Except it’s not. The entire premise of gun control is that words on a piece of paper somewhere will prevent a terrorist from killing people. What is a law if not a sign that says what you’re allowed and not allowed to do? Yet time and time and time and time again, strict gun control regimes have completely failed to prevent mass murderers from committing mass murder. Chicago and Washington, D.C., have some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation, yet those laws have done little to stem the tide of gun crime in those cities.

As Trevor Noah demonstrated via his mockery of the Minnesota man with the “Muslims Get Out” sign at his restaurant, the logic of gun control that says signs forbidding bad stuff stops bad stuff from happening is nonsensical. “Words stop bad things from happening” is just dumb. A sign that says “Muslims Get Out” will do absolutely nothing to prevent radical Islamists from wreaking havoc. Trevor Noah understands this. If only he would learn to apply his logic to the argument from gun controllers that all we need to end violence are a few more signs telling terrorists not to use guns.

Anti-Cop Rioters Don’t Care about ‘Justice’

By David French
Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The anti-cop movement is completely out of control. It’s moved from attacking the police, to attacking the rule of law itself, and now it is attacking the fundamental human right of self-defense. Twice in a month, rioters have struck back after black cops reportedly shot and killed black men who were threatening the cops with guns.

First, in Milwaukee, rioters burned businesses and cars after a black officer shot Sylville Smith. Milwaukee officials who reviewed the body-camera footage not only said that Smith was raising his gun at police, they also noted that he “had more firepower than the officer” — possessing a weapon with a 23-round magazine.

Last night, in Charlotte, N.C., a young black police officer shot and killed Keith Lamont Scott. According to police reports, Scott brandished a weapon and was given multiple commands to drop the weapon. After a woman claiming to be Scott’s daughter posted a Facebook Live video that asserted that Scott was disabled and only holding a book, riots erupted. The police say they’ve not found a book at the scene, but they do have Scott’s weapon.

Protests began in late afternoon and quickly turned violent. Rioters attacked and injured police officers (including one hit in the face with a rock), shut down and set fire to an interstate, threw rocks and other objects at motorists, damaged police cars, looted tractor trailers, and eventually looted a Walmart. Police reportedly arrested only one person in response to the widespread violence.

While none of the Black Lives Matters riots are justified, last night’s events are particularly revealing. It is extraordinarily difficult to claim white supremacy and white oppression when black cops are defending themselves from armed black men. This has nothing to do with the false narratives of “hands up, don’t shoot” or “open season on black men.” These rioters can’t even wait for the most basic of investigations. This is about destruction, about bringing down the established order. It’s the “Burn, Baby Burn” of 2016 — 51 years after the Watts riots inspired Marvin X to issue his poetic ode to vicious violence:

Killllllllll ……..
Boommmmm …………
2 honkeys gone..
Motherf***k the police
And Parker’s sister too
Burn, baby, burn*******
Cook outta sight*******
Fineburgs, wineburgs,
Safeway, noway, burn …..
Baby, burn

I thought black people — including black cops — enjoyed the same fundamental rights as every other human being on the planet, including the right to protect themselves from armed attack. What does “Black Lives Matter” even mean if a black man in uniform can’t protect himself from criminal violence — from a person of any color? Is the rule of law even relevant if riots break out before even the slightest examination of the actual evidence? Does this look like “social justice” to you?

There is a bright line — a very bright line — between lawful protest and the kind of violence America saw overnight in Charlotte. Yet it’s becoming increasingly clear that leftist radicals use the violence to create a perverse good cop/bad cop public argument: Either deal with the self-appointed radical “community” or “movement” leaders or face the mob.

While this is the kind of tactic that has always worked with timid white progressives (Tom Wolfe’s “Radical Chic” is evergreen), most Americans have little patience with riots. Hillary Clinton is playing with political and cultural fire with tweets like this:

Keith Lamont Scott. Terence Crutcher. Too many others. This has got to end. -H
4:41 PM - 21 Sep 2016

What has got to end, Hillary? A black cop reportedly defending himself from an armed man? By lumping together two very different cases (in Tulsa, Okla., Terence Crutcher was apparently unarmed and shot after video shows him walking back to his vehicle and appearing to reach inside), Clinton is stoking a narrative that lumps together all police shootings in the same basket of injustice — when cops are individuals, departments are different, and facts vary wildly. Is this the “steady” leadership she brags about?

The riots of 2016 don’t represent an oppressed underclass rising against the oppressor. They represent an oppressor criminal class rising against the rule of law and against the very value of human life. Black lives matter? Please. These people believe no lives matter — none but their own. They are the vanguard — the tip of the spear — of a larger movement that truly seeks not to build but to destroy. Shame on any politician, pundit, or activist who expresses the slightest sympathy for their deadly cause.

Obama Insults Blacks — Again

By Deroy Murdock
Thursday, September 22, 2016

‘I will consider it a personal insult, an insult to my legacy, if this community lets down its guard and fails to activate itself in this election,” a particularly hopped-up-looking President Obama shouted to the Congressional Black Caucus on Saturday night. “You wanna gimme a good sendoff? Go vote!”

First, just imagine the national burning and looting that would erupt, starting inside America’s newsrooms, if Donald J. Trump said he would consider it a “personal insult” if white people did not vote for him.

Second, how insulting!

Obama speaks about black people as if we were his servants, and he our master.

Black people owe Obama nothing. Au contraire, he owes black people plenty. Black voters turned out and backed him by 95 percent in 2008, according to the Roper Center. And then, in 2012, black support plunged — all the way down to 93 percent.

And in exchange for this blind loyalty, black folks got what from Obama? Very little. The promised land that many expected never arrived. In most cities, black neighborhoods still tend to be the go-to places for economic hardship, educational disadvantage, and crime.

Obama’s economic performance among black Americans has been highly mixed, at best, with recent bright spots overshadowed by years of abundant bad news. Since he became president, according to the latest-available data, here is how black Americans have fared on selected economic indicators:

• Unemployment rate: Down 36.2 percent

• Labor-force-participation rate: Down 2.1 percent

• Proportion below the poverty line: Down 6.6 percent

• Real median household income: Up 2.5 percent

• Food Stamp participants: Up 58.2 percent

• Home ownership: Down 9.5 percent

(For further details, please click here.)

Perhaps worst of all was Obama’s attack on the Washington, D.C., school-voucher program. He has worked tirelessly to defund one of the few glimmers of hope available to overwhelmingly black students in America’s simultaneously most expensive and worst-performing school district. Meanwhile, to their tremendous advantage, Obama sends his daughters to Sidwell Friends, Washington’s most elite, exclusive, and expensive private school.


Rather than fresh insults, what Obama owes black Americans is an apology.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Leftist Scolds Like Samantha Bee Are Definitely A Reason Trump May Win

By David Marcus
Thursday, September 22, 2016

I have a confession to make. I don’t find Samantha Bee very funny. I also don’t think John Oliver, Trevor Noah, or Seth Meyers are all that amusing. I bring this up because in The New York Times Ross Douthat wrote a column suggesting that liberal political comedians like Bee cause certain problems for Hillary Clinton. He says these late-night comedians and their views occupy a much greater space in culture than they do in the opinions of the electorate, which puts Clinton in an awkward position.

If Clinton gets too close to Bee’s scolding progressivism, she risks losing more middle-of-the-road voters. But if she doesn’t, she could alienate Bernie Sanders voters, 25 percent of whom already might not vote for her. For his trouble, Douthat met some rather aggressive pushback from liberals, who view all the branches of the Jon Stewart comedy tree as gold.

The liberal New Republic ripped off two pieces attacking Douthat’s conclusions. The first alleged that, wait for it, Douthat had not taken race into account thoroughly enough in arguing that part of Trump’s appeal is rooted in his rejection of progressive political correctness. The second argued that he was off-base because most millennials are socially liberal, as if older Americans don’t vote and younger people don’t become older people.

Bee herself weighed in, saying in a conference call “it’s so good to know that we’re the problem, and not racism,” according to New York Times writer Dave Iztkoff’s Twitter feed. When Iztkoff got some blowback from conservatives he had this to say:

Isn't it interesting that people get so upset that comedians have any place in our discourse, or that viewers watch of their own volition?

The weird thing about all of this is that the only people upset were liberals attacking Douthat’s theory. Part of the reason so many reacted is no doubt affection for Bee, who regularly “destroys” all the horrible conservative badness in the country. But what really got under their skin was something deeper.

People Are Voting for Fallon With Their Remotes

The background for the current discussions about late-night comedy is the ferocious anger thrust at “Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon for being too nice to Trump. Earlier this week I wrote about how wrongheaded the reaction was. But I failed to mention something that speaks to Douthat’s theory that hyperpoliticizing entertainment is turning off more people than it is enlightening. Fallon and “The Tonight Show” blow their competition away in the ratings. The shows’ viewership dwarfs all of the political-minded comedy shows.

“The Tonight Show” gets a bigger audience because most people aren’t looking for the self-righteous mirth of slamming those stupid Republicans right before bed. Most would rather just have a chuckle. But as the backlash against Fallon shows, that apolitical style of comedy is not only becoming rare, it is being openly attacked as insufficiently politically militant.

This is the phenomenon to which Douthat is rightly attributing much of Trump’s appeal. His signature issue, more than immigration, more than crime, more than trade, is political correctness. Are some of his supporters downright racists? Sure, but many, many more connect with him when he says the speech police are keeping us from having frank conversations about real issues and problems. It is an effective argument for Trump because it is largely true. Yet saying so drives the progressives of the cultural elite absolutely bonkers with outrage.

There are comedians who eschew political correctness; Jerry Seinfeld has taken flack for criticizing the snowflake mentality of the permanently outraged. Some comedians unable to secure late-night TV spots use the more open arena of podcasts. One such celebrity is Norm MacDonald, and a recent podcast exchange with Stephan Merchant might give a hint about why television isn’t giving him a broader platform.

About 12 minutes into a recent podcast, MacDonald and Merchant discuss transgenderism, pointing out ways in which the trans movement contradicts itself. At one point Macdonald asks if Merchant knows what cisgender means. Merchant didn’t, so MacDonald explained it is a man born a man who identifies a man, going on to say, “It’s a way of marginalizing normal people.”

Now, that’s a funny joke to my way of thinking, but not one safe for TV. Tellingly, by the end of the segment on the trans issue, Merchant suggests he knows he must have offended people, but he’s not exactly sure how or why.

Stop Ordering Us How to Think

This is exactly the predicament many voters leaning towards Trump feel. Their ideas, concerns, and feelings are consistently dismissed as not only wrong, but so wrong that they must never be spoken or heard. They know people are offended by them, but they aren’t even sure why, because it can’t be discussed. Trump and those who share positions with him are so deplorable they should only appear on TV to be destroyed.

Meanwhile, Hollywood celebrities are lining up, not just to tell us not to vote for Trump, but that not voting for Trump is the most important thing anyone can do in his or her entire life. In response to the latest video of anti-Trump hysteria, Ben Domenech hit the nail on the head.

I understand that many right-thinking Samantha Bee fans are disappointed that not every American has jumped on their “muticulti, choose your own pronoun, get out of my safe space before I’m triggered” bandwagon. It’s hard knowing many people out there don’t share one’s fundamental beliefs. When we are told our religious beliefs, politics, and worldviews aren’t acceptable in decent discourse, it pisses us off.

Trump’s unique genius in this election cycle was in identifying political correctness as a major issue for many Americans. Resistance to the progressive inquisition explains better than anything else the surprising breadth of Trump’s appeal. Liberals don’t want to hear this; after all, they consider themselves to be the apex of tolerance. More and more Americans don’t see it that way. They see a progressive hegemony that makes their ideas cogitatio non grata.

Should Trump become the next president, a possibility some on the Left are awaking to with cold shudders, the rebellion against political correctness will be why. As much pause as Trump gives me, that rebellion alone has made his candidacy worthwhile.

Did Donald Trump Just Become the Front-Runner?

By Tim Alberta
Monday, September 19, 2016

Just before Labor Day, National Review published a story assessing Donald Trump’s standing in the nation’s key battleground states, based on loads of demographic data and post-convention polling. The piece sought to determine whether Trump had any realistic path to winning 270 electoral votes on November 8.

“The answer, barring unforeseen and politically transcendent developments, is no,” it concluded.

Since then, voters have witnessed two major — and, one could argue, “politically transcendent” — developments in the race, both of them having a negative impact on Hillary Clinton.

First, in a September 9 speech, Clinton clumsily described “half” of Trump’s supporters as “deplorables,” saying they are motivated by some form of bigotry. It was her worst sound bite of the campaign, and drew instant parallels to Mitt Romney’s crippling remark about the “47 percent.” Then, two days later, she was caught on video crumpling into the arms of her entourage while prematurely departing a 9/11 memorial ceremony. Hours after an initial statement explaining that she was simply “overheated,” her campaign announced that she had been diagnosed several days earlier with pneumonia. To some, the incident validated pre-existing theories about Clinton’s poor health, and to many more it fueled fresh criticisms of her lack of transparency.

It was easily Clinton’s toughest stretch of 2016, and it was about to get worse. This past week, a deluge of polling showed Trump overtaking Clinton in four battleground states: Florida, Ohio, Nevada, and Iowa. He did likewise in several national polls, which, while useless in analyzing the electoral map, help to demonstrate momentum swings based on narratives sown by mass-media coverage.

It’s fair, in light of all of this, to ask just how drastically and fundamentally the dynamics of the race have shifted. Is Clinton still a prohibitive favorite? Are blue states such as Michigan and Wisconsin suddenly in play? Does Trump now have a clear path to 270 electoral votes?

No, no, and no.

It’s true that Trump has the wind at his back, thanks to Clinton’s worst stretch of the race and several weeks of mostly error-free campaigning on his part. But it’s also true that the Republican nominee remains a decided underdog, even as he surges in the polls of several battleground states.

Here are some important realities to consider, which we’ll elaborate on below.

• Although polls show Trump gaining momentum in a number of competitive states, he’s only established himself as the clear favorite to win one of them: Iowa. The other three where he now narrowly leads — Florida, Ohio, and Nevada — should be considered toss-ups, at best. This owes to a combination of factors, including underlying survey data that bode poorly for Trump, as well as serious organizational deficits in big states, Florida in particular.

• Even if he carries all four of those states, he will still be short of the 270 EVs needed to win the White House.

• Clinton has lost more ground than Trump has gained, thanks to defections from independents and young voters that could prove temporary.

Let’s take these points one at a time.


There were plenty of positives for Trump in last week’s wave of polling, starting with a Monmouth survey that showed him establishing an eight-point lead over Clinton in Iowa. This poll confirms what we’ve heard from operatives on the ground: that Trump has established himself as the heavy favorite to win Iowa. (Not coincidentally, it’s the state where his campaign’s infrastructure is considered strongest, in large part because he enjoys the full support of six-term GOP governor Terry Branstad, whose son, Eric, is running Trump’s statewide operation.)

The results in the other three states — Florida, Ohio, and Nevada — were mixed. Trump pulled ahead in all of them, by margins ranging from two points to five points. But deeper inside each of these states’ surveys are numbers that should be worrisome to Trump as well as trends that could prove unsustainable in the stretch run to Election Day. Moreover, in all three states Trump is badly outgunned in terms of organization and ground game, which has Democrats licking their chops with early voting right around the corner.

Here’s a quick look at where things stand in each state:

Florida (Trump leads the RealClearPolitics average by 1.2 points.)

The most Trump-friendly poll taken recently — conducted by CNN/ORC — showed him leading Clinton, 47 percent to 44 percent, among likely Florida voters in a four-way contest including Libertarian Gary Johnson and the Green party’s Jill Stein. Yet for Trump, there are unsettling numbers tucked behind those topline results, especially when it comes to women.

A major reason Trump leads in this poll is his performance among likely women voters in Florida: CNN/ORC shows him down just seven points (50 percent to 43 percent). That’s more competitive than Trump is among women in almost any generic survey; for example, a nationwide CNN/ORC poll released the previous week showed Clinton up 14 points among women, even as Trump led by one point overall.

Here’s the thing: Women were 55 percent of Florida’s electorate in 2012, according to exit polls. Obama carried them by seven points over Mitt Romney, just enough to offset Romney’s six-point margin among men and narrowly win the state. Trump should win men by significantly more than six points — he leads by 14 among them in the CNN/ORC Florida poll — but he still must keep the margin relatively close among women if he’s going to carry the state.

Seven points would certainly qualify as “relatively close,” and would probably guarantee a Trump victory in Florida. But it doesn’t seem likely: Seven points is a much smaller spread than we’re used to seeing in this matchup, and it seems highly unlikely that Trump, who has proven historically unpopular with female voters, will limit the first female major-party nominee to a margin identical to Obama’s in 2012. In other words: It’s not a great sign that Trump clings to a three-point lead in a survey that shows him overperforming with women.

Trump should be equally concerned by his broad structural deficiencies in the state. As both the Associated Press and Wall Street Journal documented this week, Clinton’s campaign organization in Florida dwarfs Trump’s. In a state that was decided by “hanging chads” in 2000, and by less than one percentage point in 2012, ground game could prove to be the deciding factor — and right now, despite the Trump campaign’s spin that it has unpaid volunteers swarming the state on his behalf, the organizational advantage belongs to Clinton.

A final point: As the WSJ notes, Florida election officials begin mailing ballots to voters in about three weeks. And Florida’s early-voting period begins ten days before Election Day. For a Trump team scrambling to play catch-up on the infrastructural front — he just installed a new state director after Labor Day — preventing the Democrats from establishing an early lead by banking millions of early and absentee votes should be a top priority.

Ohio (Trump leads the RealClearPolitics average by two points.)

Two polls this week drew much attention to the Buckeye State: one by Selzer & Company for Bloomberg Politics showing Trump up five points, and one by CNN/ORC showing Trump up four points. While both polls were great news for the GOP nominee, they also contained data that call into question their accuracy — and by extension, cast doubt on Trump’s perceived strength in the state.

The Bloomberg poll is hard to believe for a simple reason: Its pool of respondents looks nothing like the expected 2016 electorate.

In response to the survey, 43 percent of likely voters in Ohio identified as Republicans (or said they lean Republican) compared with 36 percent who identified as Democrats (or said they lean Democrat). This amounts to an R+7 party-ID advantage. But in 2012, the numbers were flipped: Thirty-eight percent of Ohio voters identified as Democrats in exit polling, and 31 percent identified as Republicans. That’s a D+7 party-ID advantage. Is it possible that Ohio has seen a 14-point swing in party identification over the past four years? Sure. Is it probable? No.

Furthermore, 83 percent of likely voters in the Bloomberg survey were white. That’s unlikely to be the case on Election Day: White vote-share has steady fallen in Ohio, from 86 percent in 2004, to 83 percent in 2008, to 79 percent in 2012. That trend of an ever-diversifying electorate is also evident nationally; political scientists fully expect it to continue in 2016. If Ohio’s electorate is 83 percent white this November — four points whiter than it was in 2012 — it would signal a stunning, dramatic dropoff in black turnout in the first post-Obama general election. Again, that’s possible, but not probable. (If you buy the controversial USC/Los Angeles Times tracking poll, it doesn’t matter whether black turnout drops, because Trump is now winning 20 percent of the black vote. We don’t buy it.)

Last, the Bloomberg poll shows Trump’s favorability-unfavorability among all Ohio likely voters at 45–52. That’s nearly identical to President Obama’s 46–51. Simply put, we haven’t seen many — if any — surveys over the past year in which the net favorabilities of Obama and Trump were even in the same neighborhood. That finding underscores just how shaky this poll’s methodology is. It’s certainly feasible that Ohio has taken a sharp right turn since reelecting Obama by a three-point margin in 2012, but these numbers are very hard to believe.

Speaking of hard to believe: The CNN/ORC poll shows Rob Portman, the incumbent Republican senator, leading Democratic challenger (and former governor) Ted Strickland by 21 points among likely voters.

Portman has run a terrific race in a difficult year, and is cruising to reelection, as our Eliana Johnson reported in a must-read piece. But nobody, including his biggest Republican supporters, thinks he’s winning Ohio by 21 points in November. Ten points would be pushing it. But 21? No chance. That result alone calls into question the accuracy of the entire survey, and the makeup of its respondents. If the survey was so skewed toward Republicans that Portman leads by 21, why is Trump only up four? A 17-point spread between the GOP’s presidential and Senate nominees suggests for the former a lack of enthusiasm from the base, lack of support from independents, or both.

Finally, it’s worth pointing out that in Ohio, early voting starts a full 29 days before the election. (It would have been 35, had the Supreme Court last week not rejected the Ohio Democratic party’s bid for an extra “golden week” that allowed simultaneous registration and early voting.) With the first ballots being cast on October 12, Trump’s campaign has little time to close a get-out-the-vote gap that’s apparent on the ground. (The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Clinton has 150 staffers there, roughly double what Trump has.) And unlike in Florida, where Trump can at least lean on the organizational support of Governor Rick Scott and his state-party apparatus, the GOP nominee is getting little help in Ohio from Governor John Kasich or the party machinery loyal to him.

Nevada (Clinton leads the RealClearPolitics Average by 0.4 points.)

Nevada has been consistently competitive for Trump, which is somewhat surprising given the state’s fast-growing Hispanic population and rapidly diminishing white vote-share (77 percent in 2004, 69 percent in 2008, 64 percent in 2012).

The latest survey, from Monmouth University — which contains a relatively small sample size of 406 likely voters — shows Trump ahead by two points in a four-way matchup, 44 percent to 42 percent. That’s a six-point swing since Monmouth’s July poll, which showed Clinton leading by four points.

Strangely, this poll shows Trump pulling ahead of Clinton even as his favorable-unfavorable rating has slipped since the July survey while hers held steady. (He was at 35–53 and is now at 30–55. She’s at 34–54 in both.)

That Clinton slid three points and Trump picked up three points during a period in which her favorability was steady and his declined suggests that nationally and in Nevada he isn’t gaining ground as much as she’s losing it, especially with young people and independents. (More on that in a minute.)

Still, there are major hurdles for Trump in a state where sweeping demographic change gives him practically zero margin for error. The Monmouth poll shows Clinton leading him 63 percent to 28 percent among non-whites. That margin, in Democrats’ eyes, should be even bigger. But if it holds and Clinton turns out her base, ensuring that white vote-share continues to decrease at the rate it has over the past three elections, it’s difficult to see how Trump wins Nevada.


Suppose all of those numbers hold. Suppose Trump wins Florida’s 29 electoral votes, Ohio’s 18, Nevada’s six, and Iowa’s six. And suppose he combines those 59 with the 206 that Romney won in 2012 (which is hardly guaranteed, considering the candidates are neck-and-neck in North Carolina and Clinton remains competitive in Arizona.)

That would be 265 EVs. Trump would still be short of the 270 he needs.

How else can he get there? There are a few ways:

•​ New Hampshire (four EVs) + Maine’s 2nd congressional district (one EV): This would give Trump five more and 270 total. But a win in New Hampshire appears unlikely; he trails in the RealClearPolitics average by six points and hasn’t led in the polls there in months. It’s quite possible — even probable — that he wins Maine’s 2nd district. (The state awards two EVs to the statewide winner and one to the winner of each of its two congressional districts.) But that’s a small bounty; Trump needs more to reach 270 total.

•​ Virginia (13 EVs) or Colorado (9 EVs): Once expected to be premier battlegrounds in 2016, both states have vanished from Republicans’ radar. A handful of recent, little-known surveys of Virginia show the race tightening. But the fact remains that Clinton has not trailed in a single poll of the commonwealth, and there is no movement on the ground suggesting it is suddenly in play. In Colorado, with the exception of an outlier poll (whose methodology is known to be shaky) that shows Trump up four points, he hasn’t led in a single statewide survey against Clinton. Her team feels so confident about Colorado that they stopped airing TV ads in the state, and GOP officials there acknowledge he doesn’t stand a chance. Barring a miracle, Trump will have to look elsewhere to get himself to 270.

•​ Michigan (16 EVs) or Wisconsin (ten EVs): In a scenario where Trump protects Romney’s 206 and carries Florida, Ohio, Nevada, and Iowa to reach 265 total, he could reach the White House by winning either Michigan or Wisconsin. Polls have tightened in both states — Clinton claims three-point leads in recent respectable surveys of both — but it remains extremely unlikely that Trump wins either one. Neither Michigan nor Wisconsin has voted for a Republican for president in decades, and the two states haven’t been competitive in the last two elections. And history aside, the fact is that Trump hasn’t reached 40 percent in a major general-election survey of either state. The tightened polls in both Michigan and Wisconsin owe to Clinton stumbling, not Trump surging. The bottom line in both states is this: Clinton’s party has a significantly larger pool of voters than Trump’s, and unless her base stays home it’s impossible to see him making up the deficit.

Pennsylvania (20 EVs): This is the grand prize. Carrying Pennsylvania would, under this scenario, not only put Trump well over the top; it would allow him to lose North Carolina’s 15 EVs and still have 270 total. The problem is, Clinton’s lead has been steady in Pennsylvania for months and shows no sign of abating. The latest poll, conducted by Muhlenberg College for the Allentown Morning Call, was released Sunday and shows Clinton leading by eight points in a four-way race. (Notably, the survey was taken after Clinton’s health episode and her “deplorables” comment.) As we’ve written before, Pennsylvania is a pipe dream for the GOP every four years. Trump in some ways is a better fit for the state than most Republicans, and there’s still a chance he could run up big enough margins among white working-class voters in its western precincts to overcome huge shortfalls among minorities and college-educated suburbanites in its eastern ones. But that chance is very remote.


Trump has gained steadily — if very slightly — over the past several weeks. But the polls have tightened primarily because Clinton’s numbers have plummeted in nearly every poll, both nationally and in battleground states. As mentioned earlier, she is hemorrhaging support among young people and independents, and enthusiasm among minorities for her candidacy has waned. The truth is that Trump has tied Clinton, or overtaken her, without improving his own standing much at all.

Consider some examples:

• In Michigan, a Detroit Free Press poll taken after the Democratic convention showed Clinton up eleven points. Just as notable as the spread was Trump’s share: He pulled a paltry 32 percent of likely voters. So when a new Free Press poll last week showed Trump trailing by only three points, the assumption was that he’d rocketed up and out of the 30s. Wrong. Instead, Clinton had joined him there, falling from 43 percent in the previous survey to 38 percent this time around. Trump did inch upward to 35 percent, but that’s still an anemic number. The story is Clinton falling to 38 percent — as well as Johnson taking a full 10 percent of likely voters. (One reason for his rise: He takes 24 percent of voters 18 to 34 in the new survey, an amount equal to Trump and just seven points behind Clinton; in the previous poll, Clinton led among that age group by 24 points. More on young voters below.)

• In Nevada, Clinton has lost independents at twice the rate Trump has gained them. Consider that Johnson, the Libertarian nominee, takes 8 percent overall in the latest Monmouth survey, and 17 percent among independents. That’s up from the 5 percent and 10 percent, respectively, he registered in Monmouth’s July survey. Clinton has been the victim of this reorientation: In July’s poll, among independents, she had 37 percent to Johnson’s 10 percent. She now has 29 percent to his 17 percent. While she has lost eight points, Trump has gained four, going from 39 percent among independents in July to 43 percent now.

• Nationally, two polls released last week show a stunning trend: At least one-third of young voters support neither one of the major-party nominees. In the CBS News/New York Times survey, Clinton takes 48 percent of voters under 30 — twelve points off Obama’s 2012 mark of 60 percent — while Trump takes 21 percent. And in the Quinnipiac poll, Johnson takes an eye-popping 29 percent of voters under 35, three points more than Trump and just two points fewer than Clinton. This represents a sharp decline for Clinton since Quinnipiac’s August poll, which showed her taking 48 percent of voters under 35 and Johnson taking 16 percent. (Trump was virtually unchanged at 24 percent.)

All of these examples raise questions of sustainability:

Will Clinton continue to register below 40 percent in a blue state where Obama won 57 percent in 2008 and 54 percent in 2012?

Will Johnson keep growing his share of the independent vote in Nevada at the expense of Clinton?

Will young people, who favor Clinton lopsidedly in head-to-head polling against Trump and hold overwhelmingly negative opinions of the GOP nominee, continue to reject that binary choice and support a third party if and when they step into the voting booth?

In this rollercoaster of a campaign, predictions aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. But if history, demography, and political science are any guide, the answer to all of these questions is no. (Especially important when projecting the realistic impact of third-party candidates is this quote from veteran GOP pollster Bill McInturff to CNBC’s John Harwood: “Reading their names [to survey respondents] significantly overstates their actual support.”)

And then there’s the most important question of all: Can Trump, who stabilized his numbers after a lengthy stretch of disciplined campaigning — speaking from teleprompters, doing outreach to black voters, resisting the urge to exploit Clinton’s health scare — keep it up?

There’s reason to be skeptical. On Wednesday, campaigning in Michigan, he finally went off-script and asked his audience, “I don’t know folks, do you think Hillary could stand up here for an hour?” The next day he consciously resurrected the birther issue, and only after multiple evasions and too-cute-by-half comments did he abruptly acknowledge that Obama was, in fact, born in the U.S. The episode effectively sabotaged the best week of his general-election campaign and handed Clinton fresh, potent ammunition to energize the Democratic base. (Questioning the legitimacy of America’s first black president is a good way to ensure Ohio’s electorate isn’t 83 percent white in November.)

The conventional wisdom heading into next Monday’s first debate is that the campaign has been upended — by Clinton’s health episode, her “deplorables” comment, and her sliding poll numbers — so much so that the momentum now belongs to Trump. That might be true. And with a debate performance that exceeds the public’s low expectations, he could suddenly find himself the consensus front-runner.

For now, however, the stubborn reality remains: Trump lacks a realistic path to 270 electoral votes.