Hillary Clinton is enjoying a post-convention surge in the polls. Trump, meanwhile, has spent the last two weeks all but asking voters to flee from him in droves—by inviting a foreign power to cyber-attack the country, attacking a gold star family, picking on a baby, etc. etc. All of this has led to growing buzz that Donald Trump could drop out of the race!
The argument is usually muffled under the sound of heavy breathing, but it boils down to this: Trump has had a disastrous two weeks and, looking back to mid-May, hasn’t put more than two good weeks in a row together. If you look at the electoral map, he is screwed: To get to the Oval Office, he has to shoot the moon and win Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida. It looks like he’s going to lose!
This is a bad argument, one that bears similarities to the idea that Trump would be deposed at the convention. Mitt Romney was never going to ride Rafalca onto the convention floor in Cleveland because Republican voters did not want Mitt Romney—they wanted Donald Trump. But this fantasy neatly captured something true, that lots of big-wig Republican establishment types hated their nominee. It is the same fantasy driving the dropping-out narrative.
For one thing, the election is 96 days a way. A lot of things can happen in three months (a lot of terrible things, which are the things Trump thrives on), and four days of shit polling in August shouldn’t make anyone drop out. For another, Republicans like Donald Trump even if some of the fancy ones aren’t voting for him! The party may be headed toward a down-ballot apocalypse with Trump at the top of the ticket, but forcing Trump off the ticket—and alienating his voters—would only make that worse, not better. (The GOP establishment knows this, which is why they’re holding their noses and sort of endorsing.)
But most importantly, Donald Trump is not dropping out because that would require Donald Trump, America’s greatest narcissist, to drop out—the party can’t force him off the ballot anymore. That isn’t happening.