NBC News’ First Read did a nice job summarizing Donald Trump’s campaign troubles from just the last five days.
[T]hink about all of the campaign-related errors over the last five days. The botched VP rollout. The awkward “60 Minutes” interview. The fact that Trump and Mike Pence never hit the campaign trail to capitalize on the VP announcement. And then last night. What you are seeing is the culmination of a campaign put together by gum and shoestrings.
Note, “last night” was a reference to Melania Trump plagiarizing Michelle Obama, but that wasn’t the only problem that emerged during the first night of the Republican National Convention. The party gathering, intended to help the GOP put its best foot forward, was ostensibly organized by members of Trump’s team, who failed to prevent all kinds of opening night mistakes – which even included the benediction.
Stuart Stevens, a leading strategist for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign in 2012, added this morning on Twitter, “These past few days … is forecast of what happens when you try to run presidential campaign without a campaign.”
For months, there’s been speculation about just how far a candidate can go with a campaign based on celebrity, resentment, and racial animus. The line from Trump’s allies isn’t necessarily wrong: the amateur candidate has exceeded everyone’s expectations so far, despite having a skeleton staff, weak fundraising, and no idea what he’s doing.
Even now, Trump’s candidacy may seem like the punch-line to a bad joke, but as his nominating convention got underway, he only trailed Hillary Clinton by a few points nationally.
But many have wondered whether or not there’s a point at which Trump’s amateurishness and inability to oversee a functioning operation start to catch up with him. As of this morning, it’s not unreasonable to think that point is now.
As we discussed last week, the vast majority of Americans don’t know or care that Trump is an incompetent candidate who’s proven himself incapable of effective leadership. Much of the mainstream has some sense of Trump’s message and they’re either prepared to support it or they’re not.
But the ineptitude of Trump and his team is nevertheless taking its toll. We’ll never know for sure, but imagine a scenario in which this candidate and his team didn’t botch the running-mate announcement, didn’t screw up the first night of the GOP convention, and didn’t spend the morning pretending to be confused by the meaning of “plagiarism.”
How much better off would Trump be? How much bigger of a post-convention bounce would we expect?
How much more confident would Americans be that Trump could be trusted as a competent chief executive?