Why Donald Trump is destined to lose

Maybe I've been working in politics too long. Maybe it's because I originally hail from New York (well, mostly New Jersey). I just don't think the recent Clinton and Sanders exchanges about qualifications, guns, or even "doing one's homework," count as "the gloves are off" or "going on the attack," as many media and campaign-watchers have described them. Remember, the Republican candidates have been going New York on each other for almost a year, calling each other con men, liars, little, and small-handed.

And while the Democratic debate over delegates and process is also striking some as heated, it too, can't hold a candle to the division on the Republican side. Sanders supporters claim neither candidate will have a majority of delegates headed into the convention. Clinton supporters say her lead is nearly insurmountable. They're both right. Clinton will likely reach a majority of both voter-driven pledged delegates and unbound superdelegates, but she'll need both in order to reach a majority of total delegates. This is true even though Sanders has won eight of the last nine contests, and it'll probably still be true even if he wins New York next week.

Donald Trump
Carlo Allegri | Reuters
Donald Trump

Enter Donald Trump. As he complains about his own side's process, he groans, "it's a crooked deal. And I see it with Bernie, too." And: "So I watch Bernie, he wins. He wins. He keeps winning, winning. And then I see, he has no chance…. Why doesn't he have a chance? Because the system is corrupt."

Like many Trump/Sanders comparisons before it, this does not hold water. The Republican party is fractured. The party's political establishment is trying to take delegates away from their inevitable front-runner, whom they've rightly deemed as both a short-term and long-term drag on their party.

Trump may lead with primary voters, but he is disliked by the rest of his base, and he trails miserably with general election voters. Bloomberg Politics and my own firm Purple Strategies just released a poll of married women — a group Romney won by seven points — showing Trump down 12 points against Clinton, while Cruz is tied. Even a third of Republican primary-voting married women feel Trump is "offensive and insulting" or "setting a new low" — startling numbers from within one's base. Trump is so dangerous to the party that high-risk strategies — like nominating someone at the convention not even currently running for president — are now being seriously discussed.

The Sanders situation is nearly the reverse. Democrats are favorable toward both their candidates. Sanders is actually stronger in all general election matchups than is Clinton, although both are beating Trump and Cruz. The Sanders campaign is helping bring into the dialog issues Democrats are proud to discuss—income inequality, campaign finance reform, climate change, the role of Wall Street and college affordability. And there is no need for some backroom delegate strategy. With Clinton likely to win a majority of both pledged and superdelegates, the will of primary voters won't be overturned. The integrity of the process can remain intact, even while Sanders' presence in the race is a benefit, not a hindrance.

For those who still complain, "but the Democrats are getting testy," let's revisit again, the Republican contest. For Republicans every state's delegate selection process is different, leading to pitched battles at state conventions in addition to connecting with voters. Trump has accused Cruz of offering delegates trips, while others are predicting delegate-wooing junkets to Trump's Mar-a-Lago home. Trump's own convention manager has said cryptically: "There's the law, and then there's ethics, and then there's getting votes." Just like Democrats are far from emulating their side's schoolyard taunts, we are not even close to approaching this kind of internal delegate battle.

Meanwhile Democratic voters are unified. This latest Marist-McLatchy poll shows 79 percent of Clinton voters would support Sanders if he's the nominee and 69 percent of Sanders voters would support Clinton. And this Pew poll shows almost two-thirds of Democrats say their party would unite behind Clinton; only 38 percent of Republicans say the same about Trump. Even in Wisconsin — a state that went decisively for Sanders — almost as many said they'd be excited or optimistic about a Clinton presidency (69 percent) as a Sanders presidency (75 percent).

So don't listen to Trump when he compares the Democratic process to the Republicans'. Trump is only worried about the system being rigged against him, while Sanders is concerned about a system rigged against the middle class. Sanders' message on income inequality helps our national conversation, even if he's not the eventual nominee. While Trump's message is so toxic even a confusing, opaque nomination process might be better than having him infect our political dialog all the way to November.

Margie Omero is a Democratic pollster and strategist with twenty years experience working with Democratic candidates, progressive causes, and major brands. She's the Democratic research lead and spokesperson for an ongoing bipartisan project studying Walmart Moms — a proven key swing voting bloc. She also co-hosts the podcast The Pollsters . Disclosure: her husband is a media consultant to Sanders for President. These are her own views. Follow her on Twitter @MargieOmero.

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