Trump frames the election...so why is he trailing?
Some in the press have actually acknowledged that the majority of the media is biased against Trump. This forms the core of his assertion that the election is rigged. Shockingly, others have conceded that in some cases, voter registration has been fraudulent and that in a few cases, past votes have been cast by illegal aliens, dead people, or persons in more than one location. Although this can hardly throw the election in enough polling districts, it is a valid argument for voter identification. This is an argument for the future, since there is not enough time now to frame it successfully.
Many presidential candidates (most recently McCain and Kerry) have made this claim that the elections were unfair – mostly those that have lost. Giuliani claimed that he has yet to see a dead Republican vote. He seems to be the most dedicated surrogate for Trump. Through all of this, it can be said that Trump has set the agenda. It is not a winning argument, but it changes the narrative.
Likewise, he changed the narrative concerning the illegal immigrant issue. He helped defeat Jeb Bush and Kasich with this approach, affecting the Republican position. It may not be a winning position, but it pushed Hillary in her public proclamations to defend some border fence. Clearly the WikiLeaks e-mails prove her dual positions, with "open borders" as her true policy, but she had to respond to Trump's strong view. If he can clarify the deportation question on Wednesday, he might gain some Hispanic citizens.
Trump strongly opposes Obamacare. He wants to replace it with another market-based system including health savings accounts. Recently, Bill Clinton and Gov. Mark Dayton questioned Obamacare, while Hillary maintains that the system requires only tinkering. The majority of Americans have a negative view of Obamacare. This is a winning issue.
Trump supports the Second Amendment with few restrictions. Hillary wants to place more restrictions on this right. Some changes may have support, but this is a more nuanced issue. If framed as a self-defense issue, then it can be a winner for Trump.
Trump takes a populist position from the right on jobs and the economy. He opposes poorly negotiated trade agreements and has forced the issue to the front lines. Hillary was forced to change her position on TPP, which she supported while secretary of state (calling it the gold standard). She had to move left as she opposed Bernie Sanders, but Trump has consistently argued against NAFTA and the like. However, Hillary's e-mails from WikiLeaks indicate that she still has some support for TPP.
Trump has pushed for repatriation of American multinationals' wealth. This results from a cut in taxes, while Hillary pushes increases on the wealthy. Framed correctly, this becomes a winning issue for Trump.
Trump argues against the establishment. It allowed him to win the Republican nomination. He has rarely stated this in the past two months. Hillary cannot claim this mantle. Both are distrusted, but only Trump can argue for change. In a year when the majority of voters think the country is going in the wrong direction, this is a winning argument. He is able to claim that Hillary represents the status quo and government corruption. The WikiLeaks disclosures reinforce this issue.
Trump cannot win if he is the issue. He spends far too much time defending himself to his disadvantage. He cannot claim back all the women he has lost during the last three weeks. He still has time to give some of them a reason to reconsider him by showing them he is stronger on national defense and personal security. Outreach to minority communities should continue, as Hillary has no plan to alleviate poverty. Peeling votes from her column gives her a tougher job.
Polling data indicates that the election is over and that Hillary will be victorious. However, there are still some swing states that can be moved. Will more women come forward to accuse Trump? Will Wikileaks have a further bombshell against Hillary? On Wednesday, the final debate will give each party a chance to frame the closing arguments. Will Trump be able to give a disciplined and coherent issue centered argument for his candidacy? If he does, he might just gain enough Electoral College votes.