US ELECTIONS

His popularity ratings in free fall, Trump tries to reorganize campaign

Will firing controversial chief strategist Corey Lewandowski boost the Republican candidate's chances in November?

El hasta ahora jefe de campaña de Trump, Corey Lewandowski, a la izquierda del magnate en un acto del pasado marzo.
El hasta ahora jefe de campaña de Trump, Corey Lewandowski, a la izquierda del magnate en un acto del pasado marzo.JOE SKIPPER / REUTERS

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Can a candidate win the presidential election if seven out of 10 citizens detest him? Most Americans have an unfavorable opinion of Republican candidate Donald Trump, says an ABC News/Washington Post poll published last week. With his popularity ratings in free fall, Trump is now trying to straighten out his electoral strategy. On Monday, he dismissed his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, a man who drew almost as much controversy as Trump himself.

Lewandowski was charged with battery after he allegedly grabbed a journalist by the arm at a campaign event but the prosecution has dropped the case. “The Donald J. Trump Campaign for President, which has set a historic record in the Republican Primary having received almost 14 million votes, has today announced that Corey Lewandowski will no longer be working with the campaign,” Hope Hicks, the campaign’s spokeswoman, said in a statement.

Trump’s team did not give further details about Lewandowski’s departure but the move reflects a search for a new direction. Trump’s campaign has survived the primaries and broken every rule in the book. With his tough, foul-mouthed approach and racist and sexist remarks, Trump became the surprise Republican candidate.

But then the ABC News/Washington Post poll unveiled some worrying news for the Trump campaign. According to the survey, 70 percent of Americans dislike the candidate and 56 percent of them strongly disapprove of him. Trump is facing his highest disapproval ratings just five months before voters go to the polls. Hillary Clinton, his Democratic rival, is not enjoying high popularity ratings either. Fifty-five percent of Americans say they see her in an unfavorable light. Still, she is ahead of Trump and she has not seen any abrupt changes in her ratings since clinching the nomination.

Trump’s campaign has survived the primaries and broken every rule in the book

On average, the latest polls say Clinton will beat Trump by almost six points. Surveys say she will win 44.9 percent of the votes while he is expected to receive 39.1 percent.

Lewandowski’s replacement will have to help build up the “presidential” character Trump needs - image of a statesman that his party is hoping for but that is not quite there yet - in order to become a credible candidate to lead the greatest power in the world.

The campaign is also facing some doubts regarding fundraising. One of Trump’s distinguishing moves during the primaries was his self-financing, something he said guaranteed his independence from wealthy donors, lobbies and Wall Street. And thanks to his media appeal, he enjoys permanent TV coverage which saves him a good deal of money on campaign ads.

But, once he won the primaries, he needed money. He thought he could raise one billion dollars but some observers challenged that projection. Not long ago, Trump himself said he did not expect to get that much. “There’s no reason to raise that,” he told Bloomberg in early June. “I just don’t think I need nearly as much money as other people need because I get so much publicity. I get so many invitations to be on television.”

English version by Dyane Jean-François

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