In a bombastic campaign in which he has promised to build a wall on the Mexican border and temporarily bar Muslims from entering the U.S.,Trump has severely alienated those voters — as well as women and college-educated whites. His rejection of free-trade deals and curbs on entitlement programs challenges the interests and ideological orthodoxy of the GOP's business-oriented financial base.
As a result, the Trump whirlwind has created a hub of intense "Never Trump" resistance within his party. The 2012 Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, has denounced him as a fraud; a top adviser to 2008 nominee John McCain, Mark Salter, declared Tuesday that he will support Clinton. Some prominent Republicans aim to generate a third party candidacy in the name of a more traditional brand of conservatism.
Yet Trump has repeatedly defied expectations in a campaign that, improbably, vanquished the son and brother of the last two Republican presidents as well as an array of leading governors and senators. And even some prominent Democratic strategists worry privately that the billionaire developer could do it again.
One asset he brings to the campaign — hidden so far by intraparty battles — is the tribal loyalty that has deepened in recent decades as the two parties have grown more polarized. Antipathy toward Democrats in general and Clinton in particular may remain a powerful binding agent holding an overwhelming majority of Republicans together.
A second is the passionate following he has developed among working class white voters who feel bypassed by trends in American culture and the economy. The appeal of his "Make America Great Again" slogan was built over decades of stagnation in incomes for average families, especially those with breadwinners lacking a college education. Though white voters have dwindled to just over 70 percent of the overall electorate, Trump strategists hope an energized turnout could help them flip key Rust Belt states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania away from the Democrats.