Hillary Clinton was supposed to have a cake walk against Donald Trump in November, but a growing number of leaders within the Democratic Party are expressing worry that Trump may be a more formidable foe than expected.
Leading up to this primary season, there was a pervasive hope among Democrats that Trump would be the nominee. Many predicted a win so big that it would not only sweep Clinton into the White House, but help Democrats regain critical seats in Congress, giving her a much stronger platform to accomplish her objectives.
But much of that hope has been dissolving, as Trump wrapped up the Republican nomination and began to pull in support around him. After a big win in Indiana finished off Ted Cruz and John Kasich, Trump has been mending bridges within the Republican Party and climbing ever-higher in the polls.
That culminated this week with a pair of polls showing Trump topping Clinton for the first time since early in the campaign. After consistently trailing Clinton by about 7 points throughout the primary season, Trump has slashed that down to just 2 points in the HuffPost Pollster average. He also took a lead in a Fox News survey released on Wednesday.
As Trump climbs in the polls, the feeling of optimism surrounding Hillary Clinton is fading within the Democratic Party.
“It will be close,” said Mark Alderman, a Democratic Party fundraiser who served on President Barack Obama’s transition team, in an interview with CNN. “I think that Trump as the nominee is an advantage for our party, but not nearly the advantage that some people had thought and hoped it would be. I think he has proven to be a far more formidable candidate than expected.”
Even some of Hillary Clinton’s closest allies are worried now. Jay Carson, who served as Clinton’s press secretary in 2008 and worked for the Clinton family’s foundation, sounded off in an Instagram post that Donald Trump may have what it takes to beat Clinton, especially if Democratic voters get complacent.
“Here’s the bad news — this guy can win the general election pretty damn easily,” Carson wrote. “I hear far too many of my liberal friends calling him a ‘joke’ and acting like the general (election) is in the bag which is nuts because he’s dangerous and he has a path to victory.”
Many have pointed to some of Clinton’s errors, including her refusal to release transcript of Wall Street speeches and her ongoing FBI investigation, as signs of her weakening campaign.
There could still be some good news ahead for Hillary Clinton. Though she suffered what may have been her worst week in the polls, Clinton still has her own post-nomination bump to look forward to once she finishes off Bernie Sanders and officially becomes the party’s nominee.
Clinton also has the advantage of a campaign practically eight years in the making, one that has grown to dwarf the size of Trump’s campaign.
And experts still believe the electoral map is tilted in her favor, with the University of Virginia Center for Politics marking 190 electoral votes that are safe for Democrats compared to just 142 assured for Republicans. With 57 votes considered “likely” for Democrats, Clinton would be able to win the presidency by taking either Florida or a combination of Virginia, Colorado, and Nevada. Trump would have a more difficult path that includes turning some of the traditionally blue rust belt states such as Wisconsin or Pennsylvania.
But, the race appears to no longer be the blowout Hillary Clinton and her allies had hoped with Donald Trump now having a real — and ever-growing — chance of winning in November.
[Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images]