Despite the media horror show currently underway, Donald Trump can still win the presidency. His biggest stumbling block to doing so, right now, is Donald Trump. There are a few key things he needs to do which I will outline below. One thing he doesn't need to do, is everything that he's done recently. Over the past two weeks he's seemingly managed to erase his convention bounce and then some solely through the use of his mouth.
Luckily he's done it at a time when less people are paying attention - the summer vacation period and the Olympics combine to draw attention elsewhere. The media however, especially given Trump's convention bounce have shed objectivity or even the appearance of it, in order to tear down Trump while the opportunity exists. They're now all in for both Trump destruction and GOP destruction (though liberal Democrats feign the latter).
Trump's team is mad at him for going off script and getting into petty arguments with anyone but Hillary Clinton. Some GOP idiots - including a Republican congressman - are actually endorsing Clinton. For real. Polls are showing Trump seemingly taking a nosedive nationally as well as in key states. It's not time to panic yet but that time is rapidly approaching.
Trump needs to right himself and damn quickly or it's game over; a progressive SCOTUS for the next generation and the end of America as it was truly imagined. Juts being another socialist also-ran nation is America's potential future. Trump is far from an ideal candidate but at this point he is the only firewall to that outcome. #NeverTrump people would do well to recognize that. There is no other next America out there to step up if the United States falls to socialism. Bits and pieces exist here and there around the globe, but no complete package. That's also important to remember. This is it - America either succeeds with Trump as a stopgap measure or it succumbs to full on Obama-Sanders-Clinton socialist visions and slumps into perpetual mediocrity.
Yet there are things that are important for Trump to remember as well. Hillary Clinton is very beatable. She's a seriously flawed candidate with issues that can be hammered on - corruption, bad decision-making, selfishness, weak and socialism are a but a few of her shortcomings. Today she even insisted (likely accidentally) she would raise taxes on the middle class, to boisterous applause no less. Despite those flaws, Trump has to remember a few common sense items if he expects to win.
(1) Stick to the damn script. Or else shut your month. This is no longer the primary campaign. He needs to be on point, not a rambling buffoon susceptible to media twists or outright quoting of him to paint him as an idiot. It's going to happen anyway, but why arm the liberal media with more ammunition before they go to battle with you?
(2) Stick to the main target - Hillary Clinton. Anyone else who attacks him is not worth his attention - don't fall for the bait. If you lose focus you do not seem presidential. Period.
(3) Project a positive message about America's future. Contrast it with past 8 years, sure, but people fundamentally want to connect. It's a human need. Connecting to anger has already engaged those for whom that approach will work. All the other people in the country need to have something positive to relate to and to hope for as an outcome. Feed them that. How will Trump create jobs? What kind of jobs? How will he erase America's energy dependence and what does that mean for America? How will he lower taxes and reinvigorate a depleted military? Those visions have a lot of room to connect with voters.
(4) Get a ground game. Get out the vote will be important in November. Without it, it's still game over.
(5) Get in synch with the GOP - don't sell out, but focus on the common goals, the common ground and stop making it seem the party is in disarray. If Trump is to be the CEO of America, he's got to get everyone within his own party marching in the same direction. If he can't then he's not the leader he claims to be. Good leaders
(6) Elevate his game. He's still talking to his base and lacking in substance in many ways. That has to change to broaden his appeal. Trump has seemingly operated under the premise that voters will only react to a tenth grade dialogue. Give voters some credit that they have more sophistication than you seem to think they have. Talking down to voters clearly will be harmful long term (i.e. beyond the primaries).
(7) Prepare for the debates. This is mission critical stuff. My guess is that the first debate might get the highest all time viewer ratings as people will want to see a train wreck and/or the 'historic' first female candidate in action. This is a huuuuuuge opportunity. He has to decimate Hillary in those debates to have a chance. He cannot fall back on "we'll have the best people". He has to be able to trap Hillary in contradictions and avoid falling into them himself. He has to make himself look informed and knowledgeable. And presidential. That will be his big opportunity. The only way to do that is to prepare, prepare, prepare.
(8) Focus efforts. Develop a pathway for electoral college victory (or a few possibilities) and stick to the plan. There are a few key swing states that present a few pathways. Hillary Clinton is poised to out-raise Trump in campaign contributions. He has to therefore be smarter and more deliberately targeted and messaged than her in his advertising.
This is not the minor leagues. Trump is still using a defeat 16 approach to defeating just one. It ain't gonna work. It's time to step up, listen to his advisers and change or at least temper his approach with some common sense. A new dynamic is great, but some things still do not change. Will Trump adjust like he needs to do? If he doesn't he was never the Make America Great candidate he claims to be - greatness requires the ability to be flexible and adjust tactics to serve the strategies. So far Trump has not shown the inclination to do so substantially enough, and time is ticking.