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The Lid: Trump, Clinton Face Key Questions After Tuesday

Welcome to The Lid, your afternoon dose of the 2016 ethos…David French told Morning Joe on Tuesday that a Trump associate called his home and was “instructed to call and deliver a message that the race would be very difficult for me.” So, apparently, we’re at the “Nice NRO gig you have there. Shame if anything happened to it” stage of the race.

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‘16 from 30,000

The two biggest questions in today’s busy news cycle have been 1) Will Hillary Clinton be able to unify the Democratic Party in the coming weeks after the primaries have drawn to a close and 2) Will any high-profile Republican Trump endorsers jump ship as the GOP nominee doubles down on remarks about a federal judge that all but his most steadfast allies have described as racially charged? And the two questions are not unrelated.

Here’s why: General election polling at this moment shows - at least in the toplines - that Trump is still within just a few points nationally of Hillary Clinton. Republican leaders renouncing Trump at this point would appear be completing a full capitulation to Clinton despite what appears to be a winnable race for the GOP nominee. And they’d be defying what many - like folks such as John McCain and John Thune, for example - have previously called “the will of the voters” during the GOP primary. But if Clinton is able to consolidate the Democratic base and expand her general election lead - and if Trump’s comments really do alienate independents in a way that shows up in polls - more Republicans may feel empowered to abandon their nominee in favor of trying to salvage downballot efforts. Of course, one complicating factor will be how third party candidates impact the polling averages. And of course, it’s worth remembering that it was Democrats wringing their hands over their candidate’s rough news cycles just two weeks ago. But the argument that Trump’s sins are forgivable since “we’ve got to beat Hillary” may seem less tenable if Clinton looks less beatable in a few weeks.

POPPING ON NBC POLITICS

FOR THE RECORD…

“It is unfortunate that my comments have been misconstrued as a categorical attack against people of Mexican heritage.”

  • Donald Trump statement on his comments about the judge in the Trump University case.

TOMORROW’S SKED

The three remaining candidates are each scheduled to be home tomorrow.