Listen for a few minutes to Republicans in the “Never Trump” camp, and you’d think the outcome of November 8’s election a foregone conclusion. Donald Trump’s unfavorables are so high, they argue, his bridges to minority voters so thoroughly burnt, that Hillary Clinton will inevitably trounce him in a landslide akin to Lyndon Johnson’s historic victory against Barry Goldwater in 1964.
But talk to Democratic strategists and you’ll hear a different story. Despite Clinton’s persistent lead in the polls, many of them are far from sanguine about her prospects against the presumptive Republican nominee. They view Trump’s ability to harness the anger of America’s dispossessed white working class as a powerful threat in several Midwestern swing states, especially now that he’s openly courting Bernie Sanders supporters and aping the Vermont senator’s rhetoric on trade. They worry the New York real-estate mogul’s brash, bullying campaign style could throw the easily flustered Clinton off balance, upending her campaign at a crucial moment. And they fear that a relentlessly negative campaign would turn women voters away from politics altogether, depriving Clinton of the votes she’ll need to overcome Trump’s likely advantage with white men.