There's a tendency when someone like Donald Trump announces that he is running for president to view -- and analyze -- him through the same lens that we do for the other men and women actively seeking the presidency. What's his policy vision? Who's in his political inner circle? What would a Trump presidency look like?
Asking any of these questions gives Trump a benefit of the doubt that he simply doesn't deserve: That a path exists for him to be president.
It doesn't. Not even close.
Here's all you need to know about Trump's seriousness as a candidate, in 1 simple chart:
Among Republicans -- you know, the people who decide the identity of their party's presidential nominee -- Trump has a net negative 42 rating. As in 23 percent of Republicans had a favorable view of Trump while 65 percent(!) had an unfavorable one. Want even more? Compare the number of Republicans who feel strongly favorable to Trump (11 percent) to those who feel strongly unfavorable (43 percent). No one in the field is anywhere close to those numbers; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is the only candidate other than Trump to have higher unfavorable than favorable ratings among his own party.
And it's not even (or only) his brutal image problems that doom Trump. Just one in ten Republicans (11 percent) have no opinion of him. So, Trump is both extremely well known and extremely disliked by the members of the party he is running to represent.
You cannot and do not win anything when your numbers look like Trump's. I can't say it any more clearly than that. There's nothing you can say or do -- not that Trump would ever even consider going on an image rehabilitation tour -- to change how people feel about you. Republicans know Trump. And they really, really don't like him.
Trump, of course, knows this. His goal is attention, not winning. And in truth, even that would be fine if Trump had an issue (or issues) that he cared about and wanted to draw attention to via his presidential bid. He doesn't. He just says stuff. Lots and lots of stuff. And it's not clear that he's spent more than the five seconds before he speaks thinking about what he's going to say.
Trump has every right to run. This is a democracy after all. But what he should not get is covered as though this is an even-close-to-serious attempt to either win the Republican nomination or influence the conversation in GOP circles in any significant way. It's not.