As Donald Trump bounces from one controversy to another and Hillary Clinton gains in the polls, some of his most devoted supporters are starting to fear that the impossible could happen: he could lose the election.
The idea of another President Clinton angers and scares them. They blame the Republican Party for not doing enough to support its nominee, the media for focusing on comments Trump made years ago and Democrats who, they say, rigged the system. They also place a little blame on Trump.
One morning last week, the Washington Post reports, Cathy Frasca woke at 5 a.m. and hand-wrote a four-page letter to Trump that said: “It is obvious that you could easily lose this election.”
The 89-year-old grandmother urged Trump to release his taxes, ignore controversies that Clinton tries to start, stop tweeting at 3am and remember that “Bill Clinton is not running for election, so please avoid using precious time to discuss his sex life.”
As Frasca watched the second presidential debate, she was glad to see Trump seemed better prepared and apologising for his “toilet talk” in 2005 about groping and sexually assaulting women. She was delighted to hear Trump tell Clinton that she should be in jail, but she didn’t understand why he dragged along women who have accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault or harassment.
On Monday morning, Frasca put on a yellow T-shirt featuring a screaming Hillary Clinton, flames and the message, “Liar! Liar! Pants suit on fire.” She and a few friends from her retirement village travelled to a Trump rally nearby.
At rallies like these, Trump can live in a world where he is still winning. He was introduced as “the next president” and greeted by a screaming crowd of 2500 while, he said, “thousands and thousands” more waited outside.
There were no polls showing Clinton with a double-digit lead, no debate moderators grilling him on the Syrian conflict, no party leaders telling him to tone it down. Here, Trump declared himself the winner of the debate, berated the media and attacked Clinton without any interruptions from fact-checkers.
Crowds like these are Trump’s case for not dropping out of the race. Crowds like these are his evidence that he can still win. Crowds are his polls.
But Trump has already won these people over, and if he wants to win the election, he has to dramatically broaden his following.
Outside the high school, a few dozen union workers and protesters gathered. One man held a sign that said, “Trump is a sexual pervert.” Three young women chanted: “Trump’s unfit!”
Jamie Young, 49, watched the commotion from a friend’s porch. She voted for Trump in Pennsylvania’s Republican primary and went to five of his rallies — and is now embarrassed that she did.
“The tipping point for me was this last video — it’s like, enough is enough. Enough is enough. I’ve had it,” said Young. “I believed that he was tough and he had a set — but his set is a little too big.”
Ron Ritz, 69, blames the media for making a big deal out of Trump’s 2005 comments. Ritz said now that Trump has apologised, everyone needs to move on and focus on issues of greater importance.
Ritz said that the polls are not accurate and that he expects Trump to win — but that the Republican could lose because Democrats will use the names of dead people to pile up fraudulent votes.
In the high school gym, it seemed like Trump was polling at 100 percent. The screaming crowd reassured Frasca.
“I pray every night that he will be president,” she said. “And every night I worry that she will be president.”