Democrats Should Take the Megalomaniac Seriously

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 13:   Peace activists take part in a rally and march against Donald Trump on March 13, 2016 in New York
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 13: Peace activists take part in a rally and march against Donald Trump on March 13, 2016 in New York City. The Trump campaign cancelled a recent rally in Chicago after learning hundreds of demonstrators were ticketed for the event. (Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)

"I'm a unifier," said Donald Trump, the odds-on favorite to be the Republican Party's nominee.

This, coming from the man whom a simple Google search with his name yields countless stories that characterize him as quite the contrary.

Commonly referred to as a divider, a bully, bombastic, someone who embraces scaremongering, is erratic, thin-skinned and a ticking-time bomb, I'm not sure it's conceivable that a statement from "The Donald" could be further from the truth.

Now, in a perfect world, these descriptions would give credence to the reality that such a candidate was in no way electable to the local School Board -- let alone President of the United States.

That's precisely the problem, because 2016 is anything but perfect, or even close to predictable.

As it's been exhaustingly reported, political gravity and conventional wisdom simply just don't apply to Trump.

Why? Nobody can yet answer such a question. In fact, since the inception of Trump's campaign back in June of 2015, it's been bewildering the brightest political minds in America.

The unorthodox campaign that he is running comes at a time when American's are seemingly more frustrated with Washington and the status quo than nearly any other period in modern history.

He's brilliantly capitalized on this deep anxiety people are feeling and has built a movement around it.

This Trump coalition is comprised of a far-reaching spectrum of voters. It encompasses evangelical and Tea Party Republicans, moderates and die-hard conservatives, Reagan Democrats, young people, Independents and more. His movement also stretches across every corner of the U.S., from the west to the deep south, and from New England to the industrial midwest.

The depth and breadth of Trump's appeal, both ideologically and geographically, should amplify and intensify the ringing of alarm bells for Democrats as the November election creeps closer by the day.

Unlike the 2016 Democratic primary election, Trump's candidacy has led to soaring voter turnout, reflecting numbers that Democrats generated in 2008 with the historic battle royal between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Bernie Sanders, who is competing against Clinton this time around, claims that he's constructing a "political revolution" to take on the establishment. The challenge for Sanders and Clinton alike, is that there's no evidence to prove that such a revolution, in terms of turnout, is being crystalized on the Democratic side this cycle.

While it's true that Sanders has amassed tremendous support from young people and Independents, his numbers among these demographics far underperform those of Obama's from 2008. As for Clinton, she isn't breaking new ground by expanding the Democratic primary electorate. Instead, she's merely turning out traditional Democratic primary voters to run up the delegate score against Sanders in order to capture the nomination.

This turnout dynamic, arguably due to an enthusiasm gap that differentiates Republicans from Democrats this primary season, is only one hurdle that Democrats face when gearing up for the general election.

Another hot-button issue that cuts across party lines and which may play a pivotal role in determining who triumphs in the general election, is trade.

At a time when so many American's are insecure about the economy, trade is a topic at the center of Trump's isolationist economic policy that helped propel him to a commanding victory in a rustbelt state like Michigan.

It's a state where tens of thousands of jobs were shipped overseas due to international trade deals like NAFTA that were supported by President Bill Clinton. In much the same way as Trump, Bernie Sander's used the issue of free trade in Michigan as a wedge issue to separate himself from his opponent. The move helped Sanders secure himself a jaw-dropping, come-from-behind win in the state.

Why will this issue matter? Because in a presumed Trump and Clinton general election matchup, this potent issue can potentially put historically blue and purple rustbelt states in jeopardy for Democrats. Yes, I'm talking about Michigan, but also states like Pennsylvania and Ohio as well.

As we look further towards the general election, beyond issues like turnout and trade that may cause Democrats heartburn, today's polling data should also be a major point of concern.

Rather than provide analysts with a sneak peak of what's likely to happen on election day with pinpoint and precision-like accuracy, polling this cycle has been all over the map.

On the GOP side, in Iowa, Trump was poised to trounce Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. Instead, he came in second and only one point ahead of Rubio. On the Democratic side, Nevada was supposed to be a dead-heat between Clinton and Sanders, yet Clinton pulled off a decisive 6-point win.

After Iowa, countless pundits hypothesized that 'The Donald' would reach a ceiling of no more than 35% of the vote in any state. Since then, he's proven nearly every one of these polling predictions wrong.

For Democrats, last week in Michigan most polls had Clinton up by roughly 20-points over Sanders. Then, in a shocking upset, the Vermont Senator prevailed, stunning everyone in the political universe, especially pollsters.

All these points illustrate the fact that polling this cycle is enormously volatile.

So when we look at last week's NBC/Wall Street Journal poll that found just 25% of all voters nationwide had a positive opinion of Trump, while a significant 64% viewed him negatively, we need to take it with a grain of salt.

Democrats should do the same when examining head-to-head match-ups with Trump versus Clinton or against Sanders where both Democrats clobber the Republican frontrunner in almost every poll released to date.

Whether it's the explosive, bizarre and feather ruffling nature of his unpredictable candidacy, the potency of his positions that can transcend party, or the fickleness of polling this cycle -- the evidence is clear: Democrats must take this megalomaniac named Donald Trump very seriously.