Could Be the End of the Beginning of the End For Trump

At Think Progress today, Jodd Legum did something devilish and useful: listing 33 examples of someone in the chattering classes announcing “the beginning of the end” for Donald Trump’s presidential boom (or perhaps his entire campaign) at various moments during the 91 days he’s led the RCP polling average for GOP presidential candidates.

The list includes people all over the political and ideological spectrum. It doesn’t include me, though I will admit I initially thought Trump’s heretical disrespecting of POW John McCain back in July might damage him a lot; when it didn’t, I stopped suggesting his campaign was ephemeral.

Legum’s count could have been much higher, and there are a host of gabbers who have made metronomically predicting Trump’s imminent demise a signature. None can probably exceed Politico’s Ben Schreckinger, who first caught my attention via a piece that frantically explored prediction markets for evidence that Trump had lost ground after the second GOP presidential debate, now has a new piece arguing that Trump might drop out of the race even if he’s doing well by conventional standards because that’s what his business record would suggest. I guess this is smart journalism, insofar as there is an endless and deeply neurotic appetite for this sort of prophecy–again, from all over the partisan and ideological spectrum.

We’re now fifteen weeks away from the Iowa Caucuses. That’s plenty of time for big things to happen in the GOP race, though between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day most of the action will be on the ground in the early states. It’s increasingly obvious that no more debate gaffe is going to kill off Trump’s candidacy, and that even if Trump fades the candidate most likely to immediately benefit is the almost equally unacceptable (to party elites) Ben Carson. It would probably be wise for the punditocracy to stop seeing “the beginning of the end” of the GOP’s nomination contest agony just ahead until it’s fading fast in the rear-view window.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.