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Sunday, August 28, 2016

With 70 days left, Donald Trump might already be out of time

With negative perceptions hardened, his late adjustments on policy and rhetoric could sway too few people to matter.
Republican Presidential nominee

The Republican nominee - 3 months after clinching the nomination - has begun frantically trying to re-position himself in the past week, installing a new campaign manager and controversial CEO to help him escape the straitjacket that his 14 months of incendiary comments and hard-edged policy positions have him in.

His task, GOP insiders readily concede, seems close to impossible. In an interview Wednesday night, Trump’s new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, recognized how long it may take to improve the public’s negative perceptions of the GOP nominee, likening her turnaround project to turning a tanker.

Trump may not have that kind of time. Early voting begins in 26 days in Minnesota and in 32 other states soon after that. And already, as summer inches to its end, 90% of Americans say they’ve decided. For all the televised daily drama this race has provided, the final outcome itself is shaping up to be less dramatic than any presidential election since 1984.

Although Trump has been seemingly slow to realize it, the more than $2 billion in free media he rode to the GOP nomination was simultaneously hardening the broader country’s negative view of Trump just as it was endearing him to the conservative base. The cascade of Trump-created controversies following the conventions that precipitated Conway’s hiring appear to have irrevocably damaged his credibility as a plausible commander in chief and could prove to be the turning point in the general election itself.

More than 60% of Americans have an unfavorable opinion of Trump, leaving Clinton, with a 54% unfavorable rating, as only the second most unpopular presidential candidate in history. 

Barring any unforeseen revelations about Clinton, the next 70 days likely aren’t going to change people’s view of either presidential contender. According to a national survey released Thursday by Quinnipiac University, 90% of likely voters have already made up their mind about the presidential race and are unlikely to change.

"We are starting to hear the faint rumblings of a Hillary Clinton landslide as her 10-point lead is further proof that Donald Trump is in a downward spiral as the clock ticks," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. "Trump's missteps, stumbles and gaffes seem to outweigh Clinton's shaky trust status and perceived shady dealings.”

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