At the moment, Trump is in a virtual dead heat with Hillary, which is remarkable considering the slanderous attacks on his character not only by Democrats but by the chorus of #NeverTrump Republicans who have also called him a sexist and xenophobe, and have compared him to Mussolini and Hitler. These negatives have hurt him but will ultimately fail for the same reason that the anti-Trump attacks in the primary failed. Trump is not an unknown quantity. He has been in front of the American public for thirty or forty years. Nothing in the public record would validate the charge Trump is a racist, let alone Hitler. Consequently these negatives are unlikely to over-ride the actual issues when voters make the judgments that will determine the election. At the same time, the obviousness of the slanders merely serves to confirm Trump’s narrative that corrupt elites fear him and will do anything to prevent him from upsetting their applecarts.
The reason Trump will win in November is that national security is at the top of voter concerns and Trump has been a strong advocate on this front. Beginning with his promise to build a wall, made national security issues – vetting Syrian Muslim refugees, rebuilding the military, “bombing the sh-t” out of ISIS and naming the enemy – have been centerpieces of his campaign. Of course he has also had help from the terrorists who carried out the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino and Orlando, and from a feckless Obama who refuses to recognize the Islamist threat. But so did Mitt Romney, who had Benghazi and Fort Hood and the same feckless commander-in-chief to work with. Romney, however, chose not to do so. He took the war issue off the table when he embraced Obama’s foreign policy in the third presidential debate and never tried to make it central again.
Since World War II no Republican has won the popular vote in a presidential election where national security has not been a primary issue. The one seeming exception is Bush’s victory in 2000. But Bush did not win the popular vote even though he was able to get the necessary majority in the electoral college. In this election, Trump has instinctively seized the high ground on national security. He has put the disasters of Obama’s Middle East retreats front and center, and s challenged the crippling denial of the commander-in-chief and his failure to take appropriate measures to defeat our enemies at home and abroad.
Thanks to nearly eight years of a party in power that refuses to secure our borders and is more interested in disarming law-abiding Americans than confronting the terror threat in our midst, national security is now a primary issue on the minds of all Americans. Donald Trump speaks to those concerns in a way that the damaged and compromised Hillary cannot. Her fingerprints are all over the disastrous Obama policies in the Middle East. National security is an issue that crosses party lines and also gender lines. Even more important, it is an issue that unifies the Republican coalition, whose current disunity is Trump’s greatest weakness. With the fallout from Hillary’s server fail as a backdrop, Trump should be able to bring his party together at the upcoming convention, and go on to secure a victory in November