Trump is headed for defeat if he doesn’t change course

In the glorious Pixar movie “Monsters, Inc.,” a supposedly terrifying piece of news is being discussed on a cable-news channel in the city of Monstropolis. A creature in the shape of a pencil, speaking in a Viennese ­accent, declares: “It is my professional opinion that now is the time . . . TO PANIC!”

Welcome to Monstropolis, President Trump.

Trump had better panic, and so should all his fans, who aren’t going to like this column and will try to comfort themselves with the idea that I’m trying to get invitations to cocktail parties by writing it.

I’m sorry, my friends, but only a genuinely deluded person could look at the political and polling portents of the present moment and refuse to grasp that Trump is in danger of suffering the most transformative political defeat in 40 years.

You can choose to say you don’t believe in the polls, but one of the few polls that showed Trump winning in the battleground states in the week before the 2016 election should be exempt from that skepticism, no? Well, the newest survey from The New York Times and ­Siena College has Joe Biden beating Trump 50-36.

Yes, I know, The New York Times is left-wing. Well, so let’s look across the ideological aisle. What’s this? A few days earlier, the Fox News poll had Biden up by 12 percentage points.

The Economist-YouGov poll, also released Wednesday, has Biden up 49-41. And that — that’s the best news Trump has gotten!

Well, you say, these national polls don’t matter. It’s a 50-state Electoral-College contest. Fine. Wisconsin’s foremost tracker, the Marquette University Law School poll, has a new survey showing Biden up 49-41 — in one of the three Obama states Trump took from the Democrats, thereby securing the presidency.

In February, Marquette had the race tied. In March and May, it had Biden up three. Now it’s jumped to eight. Trump won Wisconsin by 22,000 votes, or 0.7 percent.

Go ahead. Call me a liberal, though I’m anything but. Call me a Never Trumper, though I’m not one of those, either.

Call me whatever you want, fellas — if things don’t change, Biden is going to be calling Trump a cab on Jan. 20, 2021.

Want to comfort yourself with the thought that Trump beat Hillary Clinton and so he can beat Biden, too, and in the same way?

On June 25, 2016, Hillary Clinton was up 6.6 in the RealClearPolitics national average — and she was only at 45.9 percent. On June 24, 2020, Biden is up 10.1 percent — and even more crucially for his prospects, is at 51 percent.

I’ve seen this movie before. I saw it in 1992, when President George H.W. Bush fell behind Bill Clinton and the general idea among disbelieving Republicans was that the country wouldn’t vote for a draft-dodging philanderer. They believed there was gold to be mined from the slogan “Annoy the media — re-elect Bush.”

It didn’t work. By the middle of July, Bill Clinton had gained a significant lead he never surrendered.

I saw it in 1996, when Bob Dole ran 15 points behind Bill Clinton for most of the year. “Wake up, America!” Dole shouted in his despondency in October, and he had a point; perhaps if the American people had paid closer and more critical attention, it would have spared itself the Lewinsky scandal. Nonetheless, when the election came and went, Dole lost by nine points.

Trump’s rally in Oklahoma over the weekend was important not because the crowd size was small, but because his general tone was wildly out of touch and out of keeping with the moment. This country is tearing itself apart. He chose to talk more memorably about walking down a ramp and how politically problematic coronavirus testing is for him.

I’m going to assume Trump wants to win in November. But the truth is, right now, he’s providing us with a free MasterClass in how to destroy yourself.

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