Trump has no chance at all of winning the presidency.
Not as a Republican, and not as an Independent. I will explain why in detail. It won’t take long.
First of all, Democrats will vote Democrat, as always. Those who might have defected for a reasonable Republican candidate will under no circumstances vote for Trump, who stands about as far from Democratic principles as one can while not actually having left the planet.
Of course many Republicans will simply vote Republican; but Trump is very far from presidential, particularly with regard to foreign policy. Imagine Trump bluntly speaking to the heads of state of China and Russia the way he speaks on the campaign trail. When he “Rosie O’Donnels” these people, the reaction from those nation-states won’t just be remarks on Twitter. Some Republicans already recognize this, and have been speaking out about it. They will either not vote at all, or spend their vote elsewhere, perhaps on a Libertarian, or even (gasp) on a Democrat. Clinton is looking pretty conservative these days; it is definitely possible that some Republicans will (reluctantly, of course) vote for her. The bottom line is that it is absolutely certain that the full breadth of Republican support will not be available to Trump; he is simply not well enough aligned with Republican core principles.
In addition, it is clear that swing voters will choose the Democratic presidential candidate this time around. It’s not just Trump that is the problem for them. Another issue that is pushing the swing voters Dem-ward this time around is the behavior of congress. The current Republican-led congress is the least liked, least supported, least productive, most fragmented, most damaging congress in many decades.
In a typical election year, the swing voters decide things because Democrats reliably vote Democrat and Republicans reliably vote Republican. The swing voters then push the contest one way or the other, based on their particular concerns and perceptions. This is why campaigning normally focuses on so few states. Texas isn’t going to vote for the Democrat; California isn’t going to vote for the Republican. But who Iowa votes for… that’s usually up in the air, so that’s where the campaigning effort is exerted.
But this time, the swing voters aren’t up in the air in the usual sense. They are decidedly leaning Democrat – for some very serious reasons. The Democrats themselves will be voting for a candidate that is fairly close to their core principles and so have no reason to defect, while the Republicans won’t solidly align behind Trump. Consequently, Trump simply cannot win.
If a candidate who actually represented most Republican concerns were seriously in play, this election might, just barely, go Republican, despite congress’s abject failure to perform the duties they were elected to perform. Unfortunately for Republicans, there are no such candidates in the race.
We’ll all be saying “President Clinton” come 2016 unless the Republicans pull a rabbit out of their hat; but it is certain that said rabbit will not be named Trump.