Trump had a chance in Pennsylvania, but he's squandered it

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign slogs on, but he has effectively blown his chances at getting into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. By failing to pivot through his convention, by failing to build a ground team in important states, and by failing to reassure voters uneasy with his primary rhetoric, Trump has killed his campaign. The result: His numbers with college-educated voters and blacks have dropped dramatically, effectively locking him out of states such as Florida, Ohio, and, yes, Pennsylvania…

In very recent days, Donald Trump has started what some are calling a “pivot.” He has even admitted outright that he sometimes chooses the “wrong words.” Considering the consistent resistance to any significant change in his strategy, this is an improvement. But he is now losing college-educated white voters (which exist in high concentrations in the Philadelphia Collar); he’s polling at 2 percent or worse among African-American voters (he needs five times that to have a shot at blunting margins in Philadelphia); and his numbers with white men, in very recent polls, have begun to fade, too. That last part is important: White males without a college degree are his bedrock bloc. Losing ground with males overall implies that this bloc might have begun to have doubts, too.

His task in winning Pennsylvania was to remake himself for the final stretch, posing himself as a pragmatist who has a stronger ear for the economically stressed than Hillary Clinton has, and one whom suburban voters could trust with their vote. The prolonged Khan kerfuffle, paranoid statements about U.S. intelligence, and ranting about rigged elections aren’t confidence boosters, and his numbers have sunk since I wrote “Why Trump Can Win Pennsylvania” for NRO in late July. He has barely begun spending anything significant on ads, and, as Buzzfeed outlined, his on-the-ground presence is still virtually nonexistent. Republicans could take full advantage of online voter registration and expand on their 2016 gains, but not if there isn’t a volunteer structure set up to identify, contact, and sign up potential voters.

Primary voters gambled with an outsider who promised to shake things up and run a campaign that would be radically different from anything seen before. The blueprint for winning Pennsylvania and the general election was always there. We’ll know very shortly whether he’s actually bothering to give it a look.