this Aug. 10, 2016, photo, Republican presidential candidate
Donald Trump speaks during a coal mining roundtable at
Fitzgerald Peterbilt in Glade Spring, Va.
DES MOINES, Iowa
— The numbers are stark for Donald Trump. Down in Colorado,
Virginia and North Carolina.
is starting to spend a little money in Georgia and Arizona, states
that any Republican running for president ought to be able to
The road to 270
electoral votes — the threshold to clinch the presidency —
increasingly looks to be a series of uphill climbs and dead ends
for Trump in the usual collection of most competitive states.
The GOP nominee
needs a place to reset the electoral map, and stops this past week
in Michigan and Pennsylvania suggest he's looking at the
industrial heartland states on the Great Lakes. It's a part of the
country where he has said he can compete with Democrat Hillary
Trump will find
the going there no easier than anywhere else.
to start making some moves," said Stephan Thompson, a senior
adviser to Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis. "We need to see a
positive week out of him to create a positive trajectory. You're
not seeing that anywhere, whether it's in Wisconsin, Ohio or
With three months
to go until the Nov. 8 vote, the map for Trump is foreboding.
Early voting will
not begin until next month, giving people ample opportunity to
change their minds. But Clinton has a clear advantage in national
and state preference polls at a critical moment in the campaign
— after the conventions and as voters start paying serious
attention to the race.
If Clinton claims
states such as Colorado, Virginia and North Carolina, where recent
polls suggest she has a significant lead, Trump would need to win
most of the states bordering one of the Great Lakes to have any
chance at reaching 270.
he wins in Florida. A loss there, and he'll need to sweep all but
Illinois and New York, states firmly in Clinton's column.
Right now, Trump
doesn't have a lead in any of the states where he will need to win
and where recent polling exists, and in several states, he's
significantly behind Clinton.
Trump in running
against history, too.
While Ohio has
tipped back and forth in recent decades, a Republican presidential
nominee has not carried Wisconsin since 1984, and Pennsylvania or
Michigan since 1988. It was in Michigan where Trump delivered his
indictment this past week of trade measures enacted under recent
Democratic presidents, especially the North American Free Trade
policy that has failed this city and so many others is a policy
supported by Hillary Clinton," Trump told the Detroit
Economic Club. "Trade deals like NAFTA, signed by her
husband, that have shipped your jobs to Mexico and other
quietly banking that voters once angry about NAFTA have accepted
it or have retired since the pact was enacted two decades ago. She
opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an Asian trade agreement
she backed as secretary of state, but said at her own Michigan
event this past week that "the answer is not to rant and rave
and cut ourselves off from the world."
Paul Maslin, a
Democratic pollster in Wisconsin, said, "People have moved
beyond trade, and fixing some old problem. They actually look for
and respond more to future plans."
suburban Milwaukee's Republicans in April when he sharply
criticized Walker before losing the presidential primary. Last
month, Trump toyed with not endorsing House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.,
before the state's Aug. 9 primary, when Ryan walloped a
Wisconsin, Trump's negatives are deeper and fresher," said
Republican pollster Ed Goeas. An independent poll released this
past week by Marquette University found Trump down 15 percentage
points among likely voters in the state.
team isn't advertising on television in either Michigan or
Wisconsin, she is hardly ignoring the states. The campaign has
staff in both, and Clinton's running mate, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine,
was in Milwaukee this month.
Trump to Michigan this past week, making a stop in the Detroit
area that was more tactically precise than the billionaire's
speech to the city's well-heeled business leaders. She spoke in
Warren, the heart of working-class Macomb County, northeast of
Detroit, at a former auto parts manufacturing plant now being used
to make military aircraft equipment.
"The door is
closing fast," said Michigan Democratic strategist Amy
Chapman, President Barack Obama's senior Michigan adviser in his
2008 and 2012 campaigns. "If the numbers look like this in a
month, I'll feel better."
Trump was playing
to a wider industrial audience during his economic address in
Detroit, promoting "American steel" and "energy
mined from American sources" — obvious signals to nearby
Ohio and Pennsylvania.
will require motivating an overwhelming number of white,
working-class voters in places such as western and central
Pennsylvania and southeastern Ohio. And overcoming his current gap
with Clinton. While polls show Clinton with an edge in Ohio, they
peg her with an outright lead in Pennsylvania.
Ray Zaborney, a
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania-based GOP campaign operative who advises
most of the state's Republican legislative candidates, said Trump
is doing the right things in Pennsylvania, adding staff and making
smart travel decisions. Still, he said, Trump "has got to
find his groove and stay on his message."
"It's on his
shoulders to turn it in the right direction," Zaborney said.