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31 July 2016

Guns, jobs and angry White men: five reasons Donald Trump could win the White House


With 100 days to go until the United States decides who will be its next commander-in-chief, Donald Trump's Republican campaign is preparing to launch an attack on five main fronts that he believes will help him win the White House.

As the clock to the November 8 election starts ticking, Mr Trump will travel to key states, seeking to recruit disaffected Bernie Sanders supporters, exploit anger among white working class men, fire up America's huge gun-owning population, capitalise on post-Brexit fervour, and promise jobs.

Hillary Clinton set out her stall last week as the reliable, experienced candidate at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia.

Mrs Clinton can expect a bounce in polls after her convention, but experts increasingly believe the race will go down to the wire in a handful of mostly working class battleground states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania... 

Angry white men

Conventional wisdom has it that the Republicans need to broaden their base to win, reaching out especially to America's growing Hispanic population, and women.

Mr Trump may have already burned those bridges with a series of controversial remarks, but his team believes he can win by doubling down on his core constituencies instead. Democratic strategists fear a whole new wave of first time voters, mostly white men, will go to the polls for Mr Trump.

"There are 100 million couch potatoes," said Mark Penn, Mrs Clinton's chief strategist in her 2008 campaign. "These are people who could vote but don't feel like it. Many of them are working class whites."

Mr Trump, in wild speeches broadcast into their living rooms, will stoke their anger to get them off the couch.

The "angry white men" were out in force at the Republican convention in Cleveland.

Chris, an electrician from Ohio, said he voted for Barack Obama in 2008. Eight years later he was standing outside the Republican convention hall telling a group of anti-Trump protesters to "stay on the other side of the wall".

"There is a war in this country against white, Christian men," he said. "I'll be at the polls, you'd better believe it."

Gun-owners for Trump

Another voting bloc Mr Trump will seek to galvanise is gun owners.

According to one recent study, up to a third of Americans own a gun, many of them Democrats and Independents.

Mrs Clinton felt it necessary to assuage them, saying in her convention speech: "I'm not here to repeal the Second Amendment, and I'm not here to take your guns." 

But many do not believe her. 

For Mr Trump, who has the enthusiastic endorsement of the National Rifle Association, the issue is a open door.

Every time a terrorist attack takes place around the world over the next three months, he intends to loudly reaffirm his view that Americans should own more guns, not less, and that it will make them safer.

"I'd vote for a Democrat if they had a decent candidate," said one man legally carrying a rifle in the street in Cleveland. "Gun owners are not irrational people. I'm a normal guy, I'm not some crazy dude, and there are lots of us."

Jesse Gonzales, 26, who was carrying an AK-47 assault rifle, added: "This isn't just about guns, it's about Constitutional rights. Where does it stop if Hillary takes the guns? Trump will protect our rights."

The Brexit model

As he seeks to show his supporters that the unlikely is possible in an election, Mr Trump intends to regularly invoke Brexit, describing how the Brexiteers "took back their country".

Some of the same factors that powered the Leave movement in Britain are on display in America, namely a disdain for the establishment and concerns over unfettered immigration. Brexit earned several mentions at the Republican convention, and each time there was sustained applause.

And, like Brexit, Mr Trump believes his side will be more motivated than the opposition. His campaign thinks polls may be underplaying his support by several points.