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September 17, 2015

Peak Trump? Poll Finds Trump Tied with Carly Nationally; Another Poll Finds Trump Behind Carson by 2 in Michigan

This is bad for Trump, for more than the obvious reasons.

Trump's major argument for why he should win is that he already was winning. If you listen to his town halls (and I've seen them all), he spends a lot of time talking about how far ahead he is in the polls. A lot of time.

That's not a bad thing to talk about, as it gets the crowd cheering and pushes the idea of inevitability and of a genuine grassroots prairie-fire phenomenon.

Plus, it was a great defensive argument: whenever someone criticized him for this or that, he or his supporters could reply: Your criticism is dumb; look at the scoreboard. He's winning, dude. So obviously he knows better than you.

Which is not a terrible argument. (I've conceded it on occasion.)

But what happens when that's no longer true? What is his argument, and where is his excitement?

I've been wondering about that for a while. We may be about to find out about the real Trump -- not the Trump that's winning easily, who seems so in command. It's easy to appear in command when you're winning, and when the media showers attention on you. Just ask Barack Obama in 2007-8.

But the tough stuff of politics is trying to appear in command when you're not actually in command, and trying to make a case for yourself based on yourself, and not external phenomenon (like the fact that you're winning).

You learn a lot more about a person when he's losing than when he's winning. We might be about to learn something about Trump.

Trump attempted something he didn't try previously -- he tried to be nice. Well, nicer, at least. Especially in the post-debate spin-room, he was gracious, and didn't brag about winning -- he said everyone had done a good job and impressed him.

I hope he doesn't mistakenly connect being nicer with the leveling of his support. He showed weaknesses in the debate, obviously, but they were not weaknesses of "being too nice." They were weaknesses of not projecting a command of air about the facts and policy.

The Washington Examiner has a big pretty chart of how they rated candidates' performances. I sharply disagree on Christie, Rubio, and Paul, all of whom I thought fared poorly.

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posted by Ace at 02:49 PM

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