The Corner

If Trump Turns Off Military Voters — He Won’t Have Many Groups Left in His Corner

Does Donald Trump understand how elections work? Traditionally, the candidate that appeals to the widest swath of voters wins. Trump has the good fortunate to be facing the weakest and most unpopular Democratic candidate since Walter Mondale.

His answer to that charge is to be even more loathsome than Hillary.

Two weeks ago, Pat Smith, the mother of Benghazi causality Sean Smith, launched a blistering attack on Hillary Clinton’s leadership of the State Department. The Clinton campaign had a rare moment of good sense. They kept their traps shut. And when pressed, they were careful to honor Ms. Smith’s sacrifice before disagreeing on what they believed to be factual grounds.

The Khan family also sacrificed. Their son died with an American flag on his shoulder, protecting his men in Iraq. The bereaved parents attacked Donald Trump for his policy positions, ideas that they understood as disrespectful to their son’s sacrifice.

Trump did not have the good sense to just shut up about it. He attacked the Khans on Twitter and the Sunday morning shows. He turned a one-day story into a four-day story. He’s solidified the Khans as heroes, and as a thorn in his side until election day.

Think that’s bad? Consider this.

Trump has isolated women, Hispanics, African Americans, Muslims, and the disabled. He seems interested in adding military voters to their ranks. Several prominent veteran groups have already issued sharp rebukes of Trump.

These groups, like the VFW and Gold Star Families, are vehemently apolitical and prefer to stay out of electoral frays. Trump’s thin skin, thick head, and wide mouth have forced them off the bleachers and into the fight. And these aren’t small banners that have been called to the field. The VFW, for example, has 1.3 million members.

Add up active-duty military, reserves, national guard, veterans, and their families. You’ll find yourself somewhere north of 30 million people. That’s the second largest voting demographic in the country under Hispanics, and it’s the only one that consistently votes Republican.

Trump will still likely win military voters. But he needs to over perform with them, because he pathetically underperforms with every other demographic sans white males. Like with so many of his many business ventures, Trump is cruising for a bruising loss. And it will be longtime Republicans left to pick up the pieces — and rebuild our reputation with key groups like military voters — while Trump walks whistling out of the war zone.

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