A lot of smart pundits have pronounced the contest for the Republican presidential nomination to be wide open, up for grabs and impossible to predict. There are several obvious reasons for that (and, I might snottily add, predicting the outcome of races is a highly overrated activity anyway).
But Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post is willing to make one big pronouncement. Donald Trump, who announced his candidacy Tuesday, has no chance of becoming the Republican nominee. He backs this up with one statistic (really just a poll result). In a May Washington Post/ABC poll, Trump scores a net approval rating of negative 42 percent. And that’s among Republicans, the group that collectively will decide who will occupy the ballot position of Republican nominee. “Net” means that 65 percent of Republicans polled said they had an overall negative view of Trump and 23 said positive. That’s a net of negative 42 percent. Seven other Republican candidates whose names were included in the poll have net positive ratings. (Marco Rubio and Mike Huckabee had the highest net positives.) The only net negative, other than Trump, was Chris Christie, but even that one was within a rounding error of zero.
Cillizza’s pronouncement on Trump’s situation (and on what happens when Trump’s lips move) go like this:
You cannot and do not win anything when your numbers look like Trump’s. I can’t say it any more clearly than that. There’s nothing you can say or do — not that Trump would ever even consider going on an image rehabilitation tour — to change how people feel about you. Republicans know Trump. And they really, really don’t like him.
Trump, of course, knows this. His goal is attention, not winning. And in truth, even that would be fine if Trump had an issue (or issues) that he cared about and wanted to draw attention to via his presidential bid. He doesn’t. He just says stuff. Lots and lots of stuff. And it’s not clear that he’s spent more than the five seconds before he speaks thinking about what he’s going to say.