“Hillary Clinton was a completely known entity [in 2016]," Stirewalt told host Chris Foster. "And that came with lots and lots of negatives among both Republicans and Democrats. She was not just a fixture of American political life, but she was wreathed with a halo of scandal going back to the early days of the Clinton administration.”
Stirewalt added that America "was exhausted of not only the Clintons' dynastic ambitions, but also Hillary Clinton's very needy approach to power, [that] she must have it and she will not be denied."
By contrast, he said, "people had no idea what a Trump presidency was going to be like. Would he be a trans-partisan dealmaker? Would he be this? Would he be that?"
Four years later, Stirewalt explained, Trump "cannot say, 'Vote for me and who knows what the heck will happen?' He will say, people have to say, 'OK, I know what I'm going to get with Trump. Do I want more of it?'
"So unlike 2016, where you had a known commodity versus an unknown commodity, the most unknown, in 2020, you have two well-known commodities.”
But the biggest concern for the Trump campaign, Stirewalt stated, is that "there are a lot of people in the standard Republican coalition, which leans heavily on affluent White people in the suburbs, particularly … those voters have soured on Trump and the Republican Party in very large numbers.
“This is the crisis that the Republican Party faces. This is the crisis that Trump faces,” he added. “This is why he continues to trail by seven, eight, nine points. These voters have made a decision that they're not going to be there for Trump. And a lot of them were [in 2016] … They've said now, 'We've seen what you've got and we don't like it.'"
According to Stirewalt, the Trump campaign believes they can compensate for the loss of those voters "by bringing in a huge wave of working-class White voters who … have had historically poor turnout. They're eyeing the kind of numbers that George W. Bush got from these voters in 2004."
“We haven't seen evidence of that yet …" he continued. "The Trump campaign, for all that it says about how great they're doing, they know that they need to change the electorate. And if you're a candidate who knows that you have to change the electorate, that's not a good sign."
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