Donald Trump’s reset may be too little, too late

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WASHINGTON: When Donald Trump elevated a pollster to the top spot on his presidential campaign team, he seemed to signal an understanding of the importance of data-driven campaigning. But the message doesn’t appear to be landing. “Generally a data-driven approach is a smart way to run a campaign,” said Democratic pollster Stefan Hankin. “I would argue that Donald Trump has a lot bigger problems right now.” For the past several days, since naming pollster Kellyanne Conway as campaign manager, Trump has made overt pitches to black and Hispanic voters, groups whose support of Trump lags greatly behind that of Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. The moves come aDonald Trump’s reset may be too little, too lates Trump trails Clinton in national polls by about 6 points, according to Real Clear Polling averages — despite a weekend Los Angeles Times survey that placed Trump ahead by 2 points. In addition to Trump openly asking for black voters to support him in four consecutive speeches, the campaign suggested yesterday that it may walk back Trump’s previous vow to immediately deport the roughly 11 million immigrants living in the country illegally. Asked yesterday if Trump still backed the mass deportations via a “deportation force,” Conway told CNN: “To be determined.” But while the apparent realization that Trump’s strong numbers among white male voters will not be enough to win in November is important, numbers alone can’t create a winning message — and Conway’s guidance may not be enough to save the campaign from its own tone deafness. For example, Trump drew fire from critics who called some of his recent pitches to black voters condescending and even offensively stereotypical. “You’re living in poverty. Your schools are no good. You have no jobs,” Trump said at a rally in Michigan where he blasted Democrats for taking the black vote for granted and ignoring “inner-city” problems. “What the hell do you have to lose?” A smarter use of data could have saved Trump from such a gaffe: While black Americans do have a higher poverty rate than whites, only about a quarter live “in poverty,” according to federal statistics. And more than half of minorities — including blacks — living in major metropolitan areas reside in the suburbs, not the “inner-city,” according to census data. Asked about Trump’s statement yesterday in an interview on ABC’s “This Week,” Conway said: “Those comments are for all Americans. I live in a white community. I’m white. I was very moved by his comment.” Still, Trump’s campaign and party officials insist Trump’s latest reset has set him on the right track. “Donald Trump has been disciplined and mature. And I think he’s going to get this thing back on track,” said Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus on “This Week.”

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