I caught a couple of interviews with The Donald this morning, including one he sat down for with Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, and it seemed to me that there’s been a change in the candidate’s tone. He’s generally off to the races no matter what question he gets, reciting his list of accomplishments mixed with slaps at his opponents and his ever present promise to Make America Great Again. Now that we’re within sight of the actual starting gate in Iowa, I couldn’t escape the feeling that Trump is a lot more calm and collected. It’s not that he’s stopped working the crowd and keeping his push for votes on, but there was just a sense that this was a guy who wasn’t really thinking about Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz anymore. For all the world, Trump looks and sounds like somebody who’s already won the nomination and is setting his sights on Hillary Clinton.

He gave another interview to The Hill where that seemed to be the theme as well.

Donald Trump on Tuesday predicted he will win the Republican presidential nomination, unify the party and expand the GOP map in the general election by winning states such as Pennsylvania.

In an exclusive interview with The Hill, Trump was more confident than ever that he will face off against Hillary Clinton this fall.

“I’ve been a closer all my life,” the billionaire businessman said in his office at Trump Tower. “It’s what I do — I win. Other people don’t win. I know more about winning than anyone.”

“I close. Other people don’t close,” the GOP front-runner added.

So how does he plan on closing? For one thing, Trump seems to feel that he’s going to take Pennsylvania in the general election, a treat which has avoided the GOP’s grasp for a while now, though it’s always pretty close. That may not be as crazy as it might sound to the professional political class. To win Pennsylvania as a Republican you need to shift the margins a bit in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and then maximize the turnout in “Pennsyltucky” (the vast, largely rural and white stretch across the center of the state.)

Trump also made a rather bold prediction about his home state.

“I will expand the map,” said the reality TV star, who claims he will win Pennsylvania and will have a “real good shot” to win his home state of New York, which hasn’t been won by a Republican nominee since 1984.

“This is my place,” Trump said. “I love New York.”

Winning New York would be enormously challenging. Clinton represented the state in the Senate, and former President Clinton’s foundation has offices in Manhattan.

Huh. So Trump thinks he might be able to carry New York. Where have I heard that before?

But can he do it? There’s certainly a lot of smoke in the media tent, but can The Donald actually produce fire? Another interesting piece from Politico seems to indicate that everyone who assumes that Trump is a political novice, ignorant of the ways of the world, may be vastly underestimating him. Trump has been quietly building a serious digital data team to turn out his voters.

Donald Trump’s rivals cling to the hope that the surprise GOP presidential front-runner lacks the know-how to lure supporters to the polls, but POLITICO has learned that his campaign several months ago assembled an experienced data team to build sophisticated models to transform fervor into votes.

The team is led by two low-profile former Republican National Committee data strategists, Matt Braynard and Witold Chrabaszcz, and includes assistance from the political data outfit L2, according to multiple sources familiar with the effort. The data push is focused on integrating information Trump has collected, through his campaign website and at voter rallies, on nontraditional or unregistered supporters. It also includes commercial data obtained from the RNC and other sources, in an effort to mobilize voters in key early states, the sources said.

That sounds more like a seasoned campaigner than some sort of Ross Perot type candidate who is just hoping for manna to fall from the skies on election day. If everyone is underestimating Trump yet again it will probably be familiar territory to him. The man seems to have made his living off that.

TrumpEagle