As Donald Trump stumbles towards the November 8th election, it's clear that each week will bring a new Trump screwup. Here are my top ten predictions.
10. Trump's tax returns will be hacked. Donald Trump has refused to release his tax returns. He called upon Russian hackers to obtain Hillary Clinton's emails and release them to the press. Trump's remark has some hackers promising to make public Trump's tax returns. On a recent Bill Maher show, the host asked WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange when they were going to release Trump's returns; Assange replied, "We're working on it." It's only a matter of time before someone releases Trump's recent returns. They'll likely show zero taxes paid, no charitable contributions, and scary ties to Russian oligarchs.
9. Trump will drop any pretense of political correctness. Trump is in a death spiral: he makes an offensive remark; his ratings lower; his fragile ego is shaken; Trump lashes out with another offensive remark. How low will he go? Recently, he accused Obama and Clinton of "founding" ISIS. Soon Trump will sink lower and call them "traitors." Trump's bad behavior will egg on his crowds and poison the presidential debates. (Trump's August 17th hiring of Steve Bannon is proof of this.)
8. Trump will receive only a limited security briefing because of his ties to Russia. On August 17th, Trump was given a general national security briefing. Subsequently, Trump will ask for a detailed briefing on Russia; this will be denied because of the ties between his staff (Paul Manafort and Boris Epshteyn) and Russian interests. Trump will blurt out this news. (This week, the New York Times published information about Manafort's ties to subterranean Ukrainian-Russian politics.)
7. Most GOP swing-state senatorial candidates will move away from Trump. It's already started to happen; incumbent Republican candidates with tough re-election races - such as Illinois Senator Kirk - disavow Donald Trump. By Labor Day, if Trump doesn't change his ways, most challenged Republican incumbents will move away from him. This list includes: Ayotte (NH), Blunt (MO), Burr (NC), Grassley (IA), Johnson (WI), McCain (AZ), Portman (OH), Rubio (FL), and Toomey (PA). (If Trump bombs in the September 26th presidential debate, the majority if GOP congressional candidates will abandon him.)
6. Trump fundraising will tank. As an inevitable counterpart to a faltering candidate, Republican presidential fundraising will decline. In order to secure big donations, Trump promised to appear more presidential and to run a conventional campaign. He hasn't done this and, as a consequence, large donations will dry up. (Big Republican donors will give to Senate and House candidates.) This won't impact Trump's visibility but it will mean few Trump TV ads and a miniscule get-out-the-vote effort.
5. Trump will escalate crowd anger. As Donald Trump spirals downward, his anger and frustration will egg on his supporters. His crowds won't get any smaller - Trump's base is about 30 percent of likely voters - but they will sense that the election is slipping away. Trump will feed their anger by telling them the system is rigged and accusing Obama and Clinton of being "traitors." (The Secret Service will warn Trump about his rhetoric but he will continue to ignore these admonitions.)
4. Because of his erratic behavior, two-thirds of Americans will find Trump "unfit" for office. The current Huffington Post poll of polls indicates that 64.5 percent of Americans have an unfavorable view of Donald Trump (32.5 percent view Trump favorably). Trump's unfavorability will continue to decline. (Can it get to 70 percent?)
3. US/Iraqi forces will drive ISIS out of Iraq. Politico contributor Mark Perry writes that Iraqi and Kurdish forces, led by US advisors, are preparing a major push into Mosul that should result in ISIS forces being pushed out of Iraq just before the election. This should bolster Obama-Clinton favorability and further diminish Trump's chances. (Either this or the leaking of Trump's tax returns will be the dreaded "October surprise.")
2. Only one presidential debate will occur. After non-stop whining about the debate format, Donald Trump will show up at the September 26 Presidential debate at New York's Hofstra University. Even though he understands how important this debate is to his Presidential aspirations, Trump won't be able to control himself: he will be evasive and irritating. He will refuse to abide by the debate format: six 15-minute segments, each on a particular topic; with each candidate having two minutes to respond followed by an opportunity to question each other. Trump will refuse to honor the time limit; he'll interrupt Clinton during her response; and call her "crooked Hillary" and other derogatory terms. When questioned, Trump will refuse to give straight answers. Trump will lose the substantive debate and his favorability rating will further decline.
1. Clinton will win by 11 points and garner 348 electoral votes. After the September 26th debate, the course of the election will be clear: Hillary will defeat Trump by a convincing margin. The MSM focus will turn to competitive Senate races.