Polls show Clinton thumping Trump

Kasich follows Cruz in dropping out, leaving TPP basher Donald Trump as the last man standing in the race for the Republican nomination. With special feature audio.

John Kasich has followed Ted Cruz in dropping out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination, leaving Donald Trump as the last man standing.

Most polls have presumptive Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton beating Mr Trump at the November election by a margin of 10 points or more.

The latest CNN poll, for example, has Mrs Clinton on 54% and Mr Trump on 41% (and, not that it matters now, the moderate Mr Kasich on 51% and Mrs Clinton on 44% in a theoretical matchup).

However, under the Electoral College system, it's state-by-state voting that matters at a general election.

A New York Times analysis projects Mrs Clinton would win all of the states won by Barack Obama at the last election for a 347 to 191 electoral vote victory.

The worry for Republicans is that a Trump loss would also see the party’s majorities in the Senate and House wiped out as collateral damage. After all, although he energised a lot of voters and harnessed anger against the establishment, in most states the brash New Yorker failed to gain majority support from Republicans. And in the wider electorate, his support seems to have a limit around the 40% mark, as things stand.

A come-from-behind Trump victory can’t be ruled out. As this fascinating little YouTube clip shows, he deploys some very slick sales techniques in his speech patterns (although — promisingly for Mrs Clinton — it's notable he falls down in debates; check out the horror-show transcript at the end of this story).

But the concern for Republicans in the well-funded "NeverTrump" movement is that the New Yorker’s protectionist, populist policies are closer to Democrat ideals. For them, a Trump victory or Clinton victory would have indistinguishable consequences. 

That would certainly be the case for New Zealand, in terms of trade.

Hope for the TPP after 'theatre' of campaign fades?
Both Mr Trump and Mrs Clinton have been stridently anti-TPP during their primary campaigns. Both have name-checked the agreement, which Mr Trump has labelled “horrible”.

It would be wrong to say the TPP has any level of household name recognition in the US, but the general theme of protectionism on trade has resonated strongly. And it can be expected to  feature strongly in the run-up to November given Mr Trump’s ongoing efforts to win over blue-collar voters in the so-called rust-belt states such as Ohio (a swing state in recent elections).

Trade expert Stephen Jacobi continues to live in hope that Mr Trump and Mrs Clinton’s populist TPP-bashing is merely political theatre.

And Bernie Sanders has pointed out that, before the hurley burley of the primaries began, Mrs Clinton praised the TPP as a gold-plated deal. Bill Clinton, once upon a time, bagged the North American Free Trade Deal (Nafta) on the campaign trail but signed it into law once in office.

But where Mr Clinton always clung to the centre with a Blair-ite “third way” strategy, Mrs Clinton is further left – and faces the need to win over the substantial minority of Democrats who’ve supported Mr Sanders, plus the blue collar “Regan Democrats” who may stray to Mr Trump.

In a different world, the Republican candidate would be pointing out that forcing Apple or General Motors to build things in the US would increase prices and make America less competitive – and/or see the companies concerned bunk for Canada. But that’s not the world we’re living in. We’re now in the world of Mr Trump. 

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