NEW YORK • Mr Donald Trump's run for the US presidency has stunned the Republican Party. But if he survives a late revolt by his rivals for the nomination and other party leaders to become the standard-bearer in the general election, the electoral map now coming into view is positively forbidding.
In recent head-to-head polls with one Democrat likely to go up against Mr Trump in the Nov 8 presidential election, Mrs Hillary Clinton, he trails in every key state, including Florida and Ohio, despite her soaring unpopularity ratings with swing voters.
In Democratic-leaning states across the Rust Belt, which Mr Trump, 69, has vowed to return to Republican hands for the first time in nearly 30 years, his deficit is even worse: Mrs Clinton, 68, leads him by double digits in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
Mr Trump is so negatively viewed, polls suggest, that he could turn otherwise safe Republican states, usually political afterthoughts because of their strong conservative tilt, into tight contests. In Utah, his deep unpopularity with Mormon voters suggests that a state that has gone Republican in every election for a half-century could wind up in play.
Republicans in Utah pointed to a much-discussed Deseret News poll last month, showing Mrs Clinton with a narrow lead over Mr Trump.
Mr Trump has become unacceptable, perhaps irreversibly so, with broad sections of Americans, including large majorities of women, non-whites, Hispanics, voters under 30, and those with college degrees - the voters who powered President Barack Obama's two victories and represent the country's demographic future. All view Mr Trump unfavourably by a 2-1 margin, according to a recent New York Times/CBS News poll.
In some states, Mr Trump has surprised establishment-aligned Republicans with his breadth of support beyond the less-educated men who form his base. Even so, his support in the nominating process, in which some 30 million people may ultimately vote, would be swamped in a general election, when turnout is likely to be four times that.
"We're talking about somebody who has the passionate devotion of a minority and alternately scares, appals, angers - or all of the above - a majority of the country," said conservative analyst Henry Olsen. "This isn't anything but a historic election defeat just waiting to happen."
Mr Trump's penchant to offend and his household-name celebrity are a potentially lethal combination, as most voters have both firm and deeply negative opinions of him.
His incendiary comments about minorities and the disabled, and proposals to bar Muslims from entering the United States or to force Mexico to pay for a wall on the southern border, have resounded so widely that half of all voters said they would be scared if he were elected president, according to the Times/CBS poll.
Mr Stan Greenberg, a long-time Democratic Party pollster, released a survey last Friday showing Mr Trump trailing Mrs Clinton by 23 points among women. The largest gender gap in the past 36 years was the 11-point loss that Mr Bob Dole suffered among women against Mr Bill Clinton in 1996.
If Mrs Clinton somehow loses the Democratic race - unlikely, given her delegate advantage - Mr Trump could fare even worse in a general election against Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who has higher margins than Mrs Clinton in head-to-head polling against Mr Trump in most swing states.
Mr Trump's hopes rest largely on his energising a coalition of the disaffected: millions of people who have not voted in recent elections, but who have found in Mr Trump someone giving voice to their anger.
High primary turnouts have fed speculation that Mr Trump could lure back the so-called missing white voters - populist-minded Americans thought to have skipped the 2012 presidential election.
But the actual number of missing white voters is quite low in the closely contested states, where turnout remained high or even rose in 2012.
Moreover, there is scant evidence that white voters who did stay home would be inclined to support Mr Trump. In fact, they were far younger and much more likely to be registered Democrats than the white voters who did turn out, according to the census and data from L2, a non-partisan voter file vendor.
NEW YORK TIMES
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