Second Debate Unlikely To Halt Clinton’s Momentum

Last night's debate was indeed the low point everyone anticipated it would be, but it seems unlikely to change the status quo.

Trump Clinton Second Debate

As a general rule, I’ve never been a fan of the town-hall style “debate” format that was used for last night’s second Presidential debate ever since it was first used during the 1992 Bush v. Clinton v Perot race. For one thing, it’s often been the case that producers, or moderators, or whomever it is who ends up deciding which questions from the audience get asked don’t really do a very good job of vetting the questions from the audience, meaning that we need up with poorly drafted questions that basically let the candidates answer however they wish. The addition of question from online sources, in last night’s case Facebook, didn’t help the situation very much. That perhaps why the two moderators seemed to stray from the traditional “town hall” format by asking questions of their own, although that was dictated in no small part because it was necessary to do so in order to address the 800 pound gorilla in the room in the form of the audio tape made public on Friday that showed Donald Trump making lewd remarks about women and insinuating that he has engaged in what can only be described as sexual assault in the past. What resulted was some of the worst moments in modern American political history, with Trump not only denying he had really done what he said on the tape he did but also digging up twenty year old arguments against former President Bill Clinton even though it’s Hillary Clinton who is running for President while at the same time tearing into his opponent in a way that we really haven’t seen in modern American politics. James Joyner refers to the entire affair as bizarre, while The New York Times referred to it as bitter and personal, and they’re both right:

Donald J. Trump and Hillary Clinton collided in an almost unremittingly hostile debate on Sunday night, a 90-minute spectacle of character attacks, tawdry allegations, and Mr. Trump’s startling accusation that Mrs. Clinton had “tremendous hate in her heart.”

In a remarkable political maneuver, Mr. Trump said Mrs. Clinton had smeared women who accused her husband, Bill Clinton, of sexually assaulting or harassing them, seeking to salvage his presidential candidacy after explosive reports about his past lewd comments about women.

Tense at first, and then increasingly angry as he grew more comfortable on the attack, Mr. Trump noted that three of Mr. Clinton’s accusers were sitting in the audience. It was one of several moments when Mr. Trump aimed to energize his most conservative supporters and drive a wedge between them and the elected Republican officials who have been abandoning him. He even threatened that if it were up to him, Mrs. Clinton would “be in jail” for her use of a private email server as secretary of state.

Both candidates were visibly uneasy throughout the debate, even refusing to shake hands at the beginning, as the town hall event unfolded on a small stage in a highly charged atmosphere. It was a deeply ugly moment in American politics, featuring the sort of personal invective rarely displayed by those who aspire to lead the nation.

“Bill Clinton was abusive to women. Hillary Clinton attacked those same women — attacked them viciously,” Mr. Trump said, arguing that the accusations against Mr. Clinton were “far worse” than Mr. Trump’s own remarks in 2005 that he could grope women because he was “a star.”

Mr. Trump apologized for those comments but also repeatedly minimized them as “locker-room talk,” and even tried to blame Mrs. Clinton for raising them in light of Mr. Clinton’s behavior.

“She brings up words that I said 11 years ago — I think it’s disgraceful, and she should be ashamed of herself, to tell you the truth,” Mr. Trump said to scattered applause.

Mrs. Clinton did not specifically rebut his charges about her husband, saying only, “So much of what he just said is not right.”

Instead, she broadened her indictment of Mr. Trump beyond the 2005 recording, assailing him for refusing to show contrition for his many inflammatory statements.

“He never apologizes to anybody for anything,” Mrs. Clinton said. She unfurled a litany of his provocations, including his mocking a Gold Star family, accusing a Hispanic judge of being biased by virtue of his ethnicity, ridiculing a reporter who has a disability, and falsely claiming that President Obama was not born in America.

“Yes, this is who Donald Trump is,” Mrs. Clinton said about his 2005 remarks. “The question for us, the question our country must answer, is that this is not who we are.”

After a tumultuous political weekend, the debate was watched extremely closely by Republican members of Congress, who are deciding whether to join dozens of elected officials who have broken away from the party’s nominee.

Mr. Trump’s performance was sure-footed enough that no more Republican officials disavowed him in the immediate aftermath of the debate, and it prompted his running mate, Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana, to assure him via Twitter he would remain on the ticket after Mr. Trump’s “big debate win.”

Mr. Trump’s attacks on the Clintons — including a promise that, as president, he would appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Mrs. Clinton’s email practices — were striking even in a presidential campaign that has often seemed like a race to the bottom because of Mr. Trump’s no-holds-barred assaults on his rivals.

But no single answer by Mr. Trump seemed sufficient to put to rest the controversy over his 2005 remarks. As much as he apologized, he did not confess or reveal anything new about his treatment of women over the years. Instead, Mr. Trump alternated between sounding chastened or defensive and trying to energize his base, which remains deeply hostile to Mrs. Clinton.


Mr. Trump appeared more confident and aggressive than he had in the first debate, often dismissing Mrs. Clinton’s arguments out of hand and painting her as a politician “for 30 years” who had no record of accomplishment.

“It’s just words, folks; it’s just words,” he said about Mrs. Clinton’s policy proposals. Forty-five minutes later, he added, “It’s all talk and no action.”

Mr. Trump made little, if any, effort to appeal to moderate voters, instead hurling a series of insults at Mrs. Clinton. At one point, an audience member pressed him about whether he could be a “devoted president” for all Americans, and he said emphatically that he could be, without acknowledging that his comments over the past year had been extraordinarily divisive. Instead, he attacked Mrs. Clinton.

“She calls our people ‘deplorable,’ a large group, and irredeemable,” Mr. Trump said, invoking a comment that Mrs. Clinton made last month disparaging what she said was half of Mr. Trump’s supporters.

Mrs. Clinton’s response reflected a strategy of hers throughout the town hall-style debate: trying to engage directly with the undecided voters in the audience who asked some of the questions, and showing her empathetic side.

“Mr. Carter,” she said, naming the man who asked the question, “I have tried my entire life to do what I can to support children and families. You know, right out of law school, I went to work for the Children’s Defense Fund. And Donald talks a lot about, you know, the 30 years I’ve been in public service. I’m proud of that.”

Mr. Trump, however, was far less concerned with connecting with the voters seated in front of him than with attacking Mrs. Clinton in ways that would rally his voters behind him, and against the Republican officials who have been coming out against him.

“She’s lied about a lot of things,” Mr. Trump said, contending that Mrs. Clinton’s shift to opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal was a falsehood. Moments later, he painted her in some of his most vicious language of the campaign.

“She has tremendous hate in her heart,” Mr. Trump said. “She has tremendous hatred.”

Perhaps the lowest point in the debate, though, came when Trump got his chance to address a question regarding Clinton’s use of a private email server while serving as Secretary of State and the recently revealed fact that her subordinates had deleted some 33,000 emails deemed to be personal even after being aware of a Congressional investigation during which Clinton’s email was clearly a factor. With little regard for nuance, Trump accused Clinton of a Nixonian style cover-up, and said that if he were elected President he would make sure that a special prosecutor was appointed to investigate the matter further and that she ended up in jail at the end of the investigation. These are comments that are likely to play very well with Trump’s core group of supporters, many of whom have had an animus toward the Clinton family dating back to the 1992 election, and they’re already being emphasized and praised by many of the ‘news’ outlets that appeal to those voters, such as Breitbart. It’s also likely to play well with the Fox News Channel and talk radio crowd that has been pushing this meme about Bill and Hillary Clinton ever since the two of them first appeared on the national political landscape. What impact it has outside those groups, though, is another question entirely, and it’s unclear this morning just how successful Trump was in stopping the hemorrhaging that he had been experiencing since Friday.

According to post-debate polls, which are admittedly of questionable value even when conducted scientifically, the public perceived in the immediate aftermath of the debate that Hillary Clinton had ‘won’ the debate, although it’s not clear what impact the entire affair will have on the state of the race going forward. Politico’s Eli Stokols, meanwhile, suggests that Trump did well enough to stay alive and that Clinton had failed to deliver a ‘death blow’, but notes that the GOP remains in panic mode:

The ugliest presidential debate in the country’s history began with the two candidates taking the stage without shaking hands and will be remembered for Donald Trump’s threat to put Hillary Clinton in jail, his statement that she has “hate in her heart” and by his stunning decision to put three women who have accused Bill Clinton of sexual abuse in the front row.

But the sad spectacle did more to cement the broader 2016 campaign in the annals as a low point for the nation’s political discourse and civility than to alter a race between the two most unpopular nominees ever that is hardening as it enters the final stretch.

With 29 days left, Clinton is a heavy, heavy favorite to become the country’s first woman president. But she did not deliver a final death blow to her reeling opponent, who has been hemorrhaging Republican support after Friday’s publication of video in which he bragged about getting away with sexual assault.

“I don’t see that anything changed tonight,” said Curt Anderson, a GOP strategist in Washington. “In fact, Clinton really botched the debate in that she had a chance to put him away with a good performance. The past few days have revealed Trump’s lack of character for all to see, and tonight this debate is a reminder of just how lousy a candidate Clinton is.”

Trump, who has effectively squandered his chance of becoming president due to a bumbling, gaffe-marred two-week interim between the first debate and Sunday’s showdown in St. Louis, was the aggressor for much of the debate. But his marginally successful attacks over Obamacare and Clinton’s email controversy were aimed mainly at his own base, as were his hot-tempered hyperbole and gruff stage presence—he actually seemed to stalk Clinton, standing behind her, scowling as she answered questions posed by undecided voters in a town hall-style setting. Interim DNC Chairwoman Donna Brazile joked in the spin room afterward that Trump “got in his 10,000 steps. All he did was pace and pace and pace and pace.”

That Trump is still appealing to an angry conservative base at this late stage of the election may be the most glaring indication of the hard ceiling on his overall support and, as a result, where this race stands. Clinton’s national lead over Trump has stretched to five points, according to the Real Clear Politics average of polls, and she is surging past him in swing states like Florida and North Carolina that had been more competitive just weeks ago—all as a result of her winning over undecided voters and some Republican women.

These polls don’t take into account the public’s reaction to the 2005 videotape in which he bragged that his celebrity enables him to “grab [women] by the pussy.” But private polling is already showing a devastating effect on Trump and down-ballot Republicans, which is driving much of the fallout with dozens of GOP elected officials un-endorsing Trump over the weekend and the possibility of more to come with a congressional GOP conference call set for Monday morning.

Nate Silver isn’t sure that Trump helped himself, though:

[S]uppose that we call the debate a draw. Suppose, furthermore that the tape the Post published didn’t damage Trump. Instead, let’s say the polls look about the same a week from now as they do today, with Clinton holding a 5 or 6 percentage point lead. Maybe Clinton’s numbers were a little inflated after the first debate and Trump has even gained a point or two, somehow.

That’s still a fairly awful position for Trump with time running out, undecided voters getting off the sidelines, early voting already taking place in many states and little or no ground game to help provide a strong finishing kick. There’s the third debate, but without an extremely strong performance in that one, Trump is probably left hoping for an “October surprise” or a big polling error (not impossible, but it would have to be larger than the 4-point margin by which Brexit polls missed).

Or, obviously, things could get worse for Trump. And some “October surprises” — such as further leaks of tax returns or embarrassing comments caught on tape — could work against him. (They also wouldn’t be that surprising.) His attempt to make an issue of Bill Clinton’s past, which his campaign seems determined to pursue, could also backfire.

In the end, your assessment of Trump’s chances comes down to the same consideration as with a falling stock: How sound are the fundamentals? Is Trump the equivalent of a beleaguered blue-chip that still has lots of hard assets? In Trump’s case, the most valuable asset is probably possession of the Republican Party ballot line, which theoretically ought to be worth something given the circumstances of the race. Or was the whole business a sort of confidence trick, which was bound to implode once people began to lose faith in it?

In the end, I tend to agree with Silver. It’s possible that Trump’s performance last night will be enough to stop the bleeding from Friday’s revelations, but one gets the feeling that it’s going to be too little, too late. In addition to the fact that early and absentee voting has already begun in many important battleground states, we’re at the point now where many voters are apt to begin making up their minds as far as the election is concerned. Because of that, Friday’s revelations came at the worst possible time for Trump and that last night’s performance, even if viewed in the best possible light for Trump, was hardly enough to change public perceptions about him that have been set in stone for quite a long time now. Add into this the rumors about additional tapes with even more shocking comments from the Republican nominee are out there and ready to drop in the coming weeks, and it seems clear that Trump did not hit the home-run he would have needed to change the subject. Clinton, on the other hand, seemed to do fairly well enough last night to keep her momentum moving forward. There were some flubs on her part, of course,, such as when she tried to address the recent leaking of portions of some of her speeches to Wall Street investment firms for which she was quite well-paid after leaving Foggy Bottom, For the most part, though, Clinton did a fairly good job of getting her points across and not losing her cool even on the several occasions in which Trump was clearly baiting her.

In the end, of course, it will be the voters who will decide what impact all of this will have on the election. We’ll get some idea of that when post-debate polling comes out later this week, but my guess is that Clinton will continue moving forward, shoring up her majority in the states where she already leads, and cutting into Trump’s lead in other states. In that respect, it may be the case that this election will be over at the Presidential level much sooner than polling just two weeks ago was leading one to suspect..

FILED UNDER: 2016 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. al-Alameda says:

    Probably 90% of the people have gone to their respective corners when it comes to Hillary and Trump, minds are not changed much. Someone who usually votes Republican will not vote for Clinton in November, and does anyone truly believe that a Democratic voter will vote for Trump because of Bill’s sexual escapades or 8 GOP investigations concerning 4 deaths in Benghazi? I do not.

    I do not know whether I hope that Trump will stay on, quit, or be forced out. One thing is now certain to me, if the Republican Party had nominated a person such as Ryan or Kasich I think they’d be up 5 points by now.

    I must admit, the past 12 months of Trump make me wonder how it was that he became a celebrity. This seems to me to be a classic ‘Wizard of Oz” situation – we pull back the curtain to find that the wizard is … nobody, nothing.

  2. cian says:

    I’m kind of glad Trump didn’t absolutely bomb. It keeps him in the race and further confuses those spineless Republicans who continue to exhibit their unique brand of cowardice. Hard to see how he comes back from the last two weeks mess, but then, in a sane country he would have been dumped 15 months ago. Scary to see the world’s most powerful nation losing its mind.

  3. CSK says:


    Trump became a celebrity because he made himself tabloid fodder starting back in the 1980s. You probably had to be from the greater New York area or at least the northeast to understand how relentlessly this guy promoted himself. He orchestrated the catfight between Ivana Trump and Marla Maples at the ski resort. Marla Maples, an expert manipulator herself, told the New York Post that sex with Trump was “the best sex I ever had,” and Trump practically had this plastered on billboards all over the northeast corridor. Nothing was beneath him.

    So basically he became a celebrity by acting like a churl. Sensible people were disgusted by him, but amused by the spectacle. And the Trump freak show, as these things often do, mutated into celebrity.

  4. barbintheboonies says:

    @al-Alameda: The same way the Kardashian`s, Honey Boo Boo, and all the other crap that is our new reality. Our country is full of people who eat up this stuff. Maybe they need a REAL reality check. The world has some serious problems and it needs people who are willing to make some serious changes for the betterment of our universe. We need to start somewhere. United States should be the first to make theses changes, instead we have this BS

  5. CSK says:

    Something else you have to bear in mind about Trump is that from his earliest days, he was desperate to crash Old New York Society. I don’t mean Cafe Society, but the bluebloods. He was too dumb to know that you can’t do this; you have to be born into those circles, just as you have to be born into them in Boston, London, Paris, Rome, etc. He compounded the dumbness by thinking that tabloid hijinks would make him famous (they did), and thus appealing to the bluebloods. This was insanely stupid, because those people go to great lengths to stay out of the press. Remember the old saying: “A lady’s name appears in the paper only three times: once when she’s born, once when she’s married, and once when she dies.” Trump seemed to think that banging starlets and models and then reporting back to Liz Smith with all the details would earn him a place at the Livingston dinner table. Wrong.

  6. grumpy realist says:

    @barbintheboonies: This is what infuriates me about the so-called social conservatives. They continually accuse “liberals” of being horrible, sex-crazed people without morals, totally ignoring that most of us live reasonable (and moral lives), don’t cheat on our spouses, raise our children, and try to live according to the Golden Rule.

    But no….we’re continually accused of having been raised by wolves.

  7. Modulo Myself says:


    This. He wanted to marry a WASP with Locust Valley lockjaw and get into the Maidstone Club. That’s it. The guy loathes everything about his life–it’s no wonder he ended up with Roy Cohn.

  8. MBunge says:

    The events of the last several days have changed my mind on one thing. I thought the talk of a GOP civil war was overblown unless Trump lost by like 15 points, which didn’t look likely then or even now, and dragged the Congress with him. I was wrong because I was assuming, like pretty much everyone else, that the “war” would be so-called reasonable Republicans taking the party back from the nuts. Of course, the so-called reasonable Republicans are actually responsible for encouraging the nuts and making them even nuttier, but that’s another thing.

    It seems clear now that lose or win, there will be a GOP civil war but it’s going to be the Trumpists coming after their party’s establishment.


  9. Guarneri says:


    You are absolutely correct. It’s too bad neither of the candidates come within a country mile of filling the bill.

    The electorate is getting what it deserves.

  10. gVOR08 says:

    There were several points last night that I felt Trump has given up on Plan B, becoming prez, and fallen back to Plan A, the TRUMP political news network. He seemed to be targeting his base, not the general electorate. He can’t really think wanting to jail a defeated candidate would play outside the deplorables.

  11. grumpy realist says:

    Vote these slimeballs out of office. NOW.

    Makes me wonder how many women Mr. Sessions has groped.

  12. wr says:

    @al-Alameda: “One thing is now certain to me, if the Republican Party had nominated a person such as Ryan or Kasich I think they’d be up 5 points by now.”

    I don’t think so. I’m reminded of Barbara Boxer’s multiple senate campaigns in California. Every six years we’d hear how this time the Republicans had finally nominated a great candidate and this time they would prove to the world that Boxer was way too liberal to ever get re-elected… and then Boxer would breeze to victory.

    Hillary Clinton is not a great orator, but I think people are making a big mistake in saying she’s not a good campaigner. This campaign against Trump has been pitch perfect, and I’m not sure she wouldn’t be doing just as well with a candidate who looks good now but might not after coming up against her…

  13. Franklin says:

    What do you think would happen if one candidate just ignored the other person’s accusations and just talked policy all night?

  14. Guarneri says:

    Keep dreaming, Franklin. This is reality. Go out and interview the proverbial man in the street and you’ll know why.

    Let’s see, what’s on. Modern Family? The Bachelor. The View? Real Wives….?

  15. C. Clavin says:


    He can’t really think wanting to jail a defeated candidate would play

    Haven’t you heard…he wasn’t serious….that was just a “quip”.

  16. Facebones says:

    @wr: Pretty much. If the GOP had nominated Kasich or Jeb, I think the race would have gone pretty much like Obama-Romney, with a stable 3% lead for Clinton the whole way.

    And remember: the “moderates,” like Kasich, are only moderate compared to Trump. They still advocate for abortion bans and hardline immigration policies. They just do it quieter.

  17. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @al-Alameda: I hope Trump stays on. Which is not the same thing as hoping he will be President.

  18. Tillman says:


    One thing is now certain to me, if the Republican Party had nominated a person such as Ryan or Kasich I think they’d be up 5 points by now.

    It’d probably be closer to a dead heat. Or you mean up 5 points more than Trump is now? Either way, Trump going down in the primaries would’ve allowed GOPers to insist “all Mexicans are rapists” and “ban Muslim immigration” aren’t things they stand for. Dem partisans would still scream about their various sins, but you wouldn’t get the echo we’re seeing in normal folk with Trump.

    @wr: A, the US isn’t California. B,

    This campaign against Trump has been pitch perfect

    Except for loosening the noose on the Republican Party and hanging Trump with it instead. This is costing Dems in Senate and Congressional races by giving Republican voters an out to vote straight Republican except for the top of the ticket. It’s very likely NC goes for Clinton while reelecting Burr. Given how self-defeating Trump is, this was a dumb move and could mean more years of obstruction.

  19. grumpy realist says:

    @Guarneri: You do realize that Zerohedge is an outlet for Russian disinformation, don’t you?

  20. al-Alameda says:


    It’d probably be closer to a dead heat. Or you mean up 5 points more than Trump is now?

    Actually I did mean to say up 5% or so. I might be overstating the abilities of Kasich and Ryan somewhat, but those guys (particularly Kasich) are more orthodox Republicans. They would be able to articulate issues as Hillary does, plus, they don’t have the personal baggage that Trump quite clearly has. The only question would be if Ryan or Kasich could get the base angry enough to ramp up GOP turnout.

  21. michael reynolds says:

    @grumpy realist:

    No, of course he doesn’t know that. The ratio of opinion to knowledge is about 100 to 1 with Guarneri.

  22. Katharsis says:


    I’ve had similar thoughts, however:


    The events of the last several days have changed my mind on one thing. I thought the talk of a GOP civil war was overblown unless Trump lost by like 15 points, which didn’t look likely then or even now, and dragged the Congress with him. I was wrong because I was assuming, like pretty much everyone else, that the “war” would be so-called reasonable Republicans taking the party back from the nuts.

    I think the HRC campaign calculated that they needed to win at all costs, and the best way to do that would be not to alienate possible defector republicans. She really wants people to know that she has the support of some republicans. So while I can’t say that this effect was intentional, I do believe that splitting the party about their own nominee is having the effect of encouraging a ‘civil war’ scenario.

  23. grumpy realist says:

    Here’s an interesting piece of research showing how ZeroHedge gets used as an injector for Russian-friendly conspiracy stories to get injected into the alt-right internet ecology.

    (Bloomberg has another story from one of the original founders who finally quit in disgust as the original “financial bad-boy” policy mutated into Conspiracy Central.)

    (Stick an article praising the wonders of Bitcoin into your blog, and you’ve instantly attracted a certain libertarian population which overlaps with the alt-right.)

  24. JKB says:

    @CSK: So basically he became a celebrity by acting like a churl. Sensible people were disgusted by him, but amused by the spectacle.

    Your rank is all reversed; let men of cloth
    Bow to the stalwart churls in overalls.

    You reveal where his election has gone. It is the alleged eorls against the ceorls. The “elite” against the low born freemen. It’s all very “Dark Ages”.

    Trump’s troubles within America’s Ruling Class derive from his Outer Borough style and patriotic policy positions. So, too, do his strengths.

  25. MBunge says:

    @wr: This campaign against Trump has been pitch perfect, and I’m not sure she wouldn’t be doing just as well with a candidate who looks good now but might not after coming up against her…

    No one can really know what might have been…but Hillary Clinton’s Gallup Poll unfavorable rating has been higher than her favorable rating since August, 2015 and her unfavorable rating has been 10 points or more higher than her favorable rating since January, 2016.

    Which means that before a single Republican cast a single vote for Donald Trump, the majority of the country was saying they DID NOT WANT to vote for Hillary Clinton and they haven’t change their mind on that for well over year. The suggestion that Trump’s troubles are due to Hillary’s campaign is fanciful at best.


  26. grumpy realist says:

    More Republicans trying to say that what Donald Trump bragged about isn’t sexual assault.

    Great on Round II of the Republican Outreach to Women, guys. I hope a fat, sweaty, halitosis-inflicted 70-year old female walks up to you and grabs your privates. Just a little friendly genital contact, right?

  27. gVOR08 says:

    @Katharsis: Agree. This did not look like a sure thing until a few days ago. God bless Access Hollywood and all who sail in her. Wasn’t it Churchill who said, “The first duty of any politician is to win election.” That said, this morning it sure looks like pants suit jackets have tails.

  28. michael reynolds says:


    No, sorry, but this is not about ‘elites.’ African American voters are not the elite, neither are Latinos, or Asians, or gays, or single mothers.

    It’s very flattering for racists, woman-haters, anti-semites, neo-Nazis, Klansmen and assorted other deplorables to cast themselves as brave peasants rising up. But it’s utter bullshit. Uneducated white men are rising up. Just them. Stupid white men. You know: you.

    But thank God you people are just so very deeply stupid, and so filled with rage and hate. It’s thanks to people like you that the GOP candidate has – according to Nate – a 16% chance of winning. We’re not only going to elect Hillary, we’re going to take North Carolina and Arizona, and we will keep both, and that, my friend, is the end of GOP White House hopes.

    Fact is, the GOP could have won. But people like you, JKB, could not quite conceal or restrain the nasty fascism at the heart of your politics. People like you, JKB, chose to turn your party and your ideology and this nation over to a rancid baboon.

    So, you will elect Hillary. You will give us control of the SCOTUS for many years to come.

    Thank you so much for playing our game.

  29. michael reynolds says:

    I don’t think the bottom will fall out of Trump’s voter support – despite the fun new NBC poll. But he’ll likely be cut off from party funding, and he’ll lose some enthusiasm and may depress turnout a bit. But I’d guess he’ll keep his deplorable 40%.

    Which leaves 60%.

    Let’s be generous and give Crazy Green Lady 1% and the New Mexico Weed Dealer a nice fat 6%.

    That leaves it looking like 53 to 40. Hillary by 13 points? That is a very real possibility. Better than Obama vs. McCain, and a freaking miracle in what amounts to a 3rd term run by a not-exactly-beloved candidate.

  30. Lynn says:

    @al-Alameda: “Someone who usually votes Republican will not vote for Clinton in November”


  31. Moosebreath says:


    “No one can really know what might have been”

    Except for those who are convinced that Bernie would be further ahead of Trump than Hillary.

  32. Andrew says:

    For a man who has owned many a casino, Trump has an abysmal poker face. Which makes sense when looking at the bigger picture.

    He can not even intimidate Hilary. To him, it must be maddening. Spending 90 minutes trying so hard to get back at Clinton for unleashing such embarrassment. And yet, none of this normal childish behavior does anything!


  33. Tyrell says:

    @Moosebreath: I am pulling back and re-channeling my political interests until things improve. I will focus on studies of the space program, energy research, and the history of WWII – Mediterranean theater.
    When we get people like Johnson, Truman, Humphrey, Kennedy, Fulbright, and Clifford, I will get back in. I will remain active in the local level.

  34. JR says:

    @wr: Yeah, it is nonsense. Trump is an awful candidate, but whoever the GOP nominated this year was going to be the underdog. Against anyone, Hillary starts with 242 EC and while she isn’t a great retail politician, she has a loyal base and very strong ground game.

    Best case scenario for the GOP was a 50/50 race and they eek out a small EC win, but that just highlights how terrible the GOP brand is in presidential elections.

  35. CSK says:


    If ever your Emerson quote was inapposite to a situation, it’s here. Trump isn’t a patriot standing up for the noble peasantry. He’s a pathological social climber wreaking his revenge on a minute segment of society that didn’t welcome him into its ranks.

    And, like all social climbers, Trump loathes and despises the peasantry. They’re useful to him at the moment as a vehicle of revenge. Believe me, JKB, if Trump weren’t running for president, he wouldn’t be caught dead associating with you (or me, or Michael Reynolds, or Jen, or Doug Mataconis) . He’d lose too much status in his own eyes.

    Bill Weld, on the other hand, a genuine blueblood and a nice, funny guy whatever you think of his politics, would be happy to have a drink with you.

  36. Brazilian Reporter saying “Puta que pariu”(The equivalent to WTF in English) after listening to Trump in the debate.

  37. dxq says:

    Jeff Sessions, Pat Robertson, Tony Perkins, and Ralph Reed haven’t even blinked in their support for Trump.

    The people who holler the loudest about values, are the most in need of some.

  38. Tillman says:

    @Katharsis: I don’t buy that the odds were that desperate (especially since this falls within living memory). They made this strategic shift back in June, and commenters here at that time were already predicting exactly what Clinton’s debate strategy would be: needle Trump about a few things and get under his skin, let him melt down live on national television. We’d already been subjected to a few rounds of Ryan and other establishment GOPers condemning one Trump remark or another only to end with, “I support the nominee,” so the noose was well-prepared to hang the whole GOP on him. The shift strikes me more as hedging: even if Trump didn’t collapse, they’d have this electoral bulwark composed of the few moderate Republicans uncomfortable with him.

    This doesn’t strike me as a great idea in the context of having recently ended a contest where two-fifths of your party went for a pinko communist.

  39. Moosebreath says:


    “The people who holler the loudest about values, are the most in need of some.”

    Yep. The next time anyone who was a Trump supporter suggests that they are opposing someone due to their character, they should be laughed at. If the walking embodiment of the Seven Deadly Sins is able to get your vote, then your concern is not about character.

  40. george says:

    Going through the various left and right wing sites (confirmation bias is a horrible thing, always good to see what the other side is saying) I note that both sides think their candidate won the debate. And interestingly enough, no one thinks it was close, everyone thinks it was a walk-over for their person. Which kind of makes sense. The two are so far apart in so many ways, that what appeals to the one’s followers will repel the other’s, and vice versa.

    The question left is did it do anything to convince independent voters in one direction or another? I suspect not – my guess is that most independents didn’t watch the debate (presidential debates are mind numbingly boring for anyone not extremely interested in politics). None of the undecided I’ve talked to today bothered watching it – too many better things to do.

    Myself, I think Trump is bat sh*t crazy, but if you want to burn the house down around you you’re not going to be turned off by that – the crazier he gets the more you’d like it. He’s certainly not the first (or even biggest) racist to run for president, there’s never been a shortage of politicians saying outrageous things. But in the past most got 1-2% and dropped out. I’m beginning to think the reason he’s gotten somewhere is that he’s feeding into some nihilistic element that others haven’t reached.

  41. grumpy realist says:

    @george: Yup. His alt-right followers are just as happy to Burn The Whole Thing Down if they can’t be in charge.

    I really wonder whether we’re going to see civil disorder at the end of this. Trump refuses to accept result of election, screams about having been “robbed!”, continues playing to the conspiracy-addled nitwits on the Far Right…..

    I just wish I could drop a huge asteroid on all of them.

  42. CSK says:

    @grumpy realist:

    “Ah, sweet meteor of death, at last I’ve found thee…”

  43. Bookdragon says:

    @gVOR08: Not female. Male.

    I guarantee that if a gay man grabbed them by the crotch, or even just engaged in ‘locker room banter’ about doing it, they would have no difficulty identifying that as sexual assault.

  44. JohnMcC says:

    @Tyrell: Wonderful histories of the Med theater. Fabulous colorful characters. Check out the available newsreels of P-40s taking off from the old Ranger on their way to Morocco to be given to the Free French — right after they quit shooting at us.

  45. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @CSK: He might associate with Reynolds. Mike, do you have several million available to buy an apartment in Manhattan? (Note: I’m not asking if you’d do it, just about your ability to.)

  46. CSK says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker:

    Nah, Mike has to write his own books. (Loser.) Donald Trump hires people to write his books.

  47. george says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Sometimes I think they just want to burn the whole thing down, period. There’s a steady market for post apocalypse literature and film that taps into some strange corners in many people’s mind, I wonder if Trump’s found a way to connect with that.

    Of course, the reality wouldn’t be anything like those romantic stories.

  48. grumpy realist says:

    @george: Yeah. They all imagine that they would be Mad Max in a post-apocalyptic world.

    Most likely they would be lunch for someone else.

  49. CSK says:


    @grumpy realist:

    Oh, there’s no question a lot of Trump supporters want to “burn it all down.” They’ve said so on innumerable occasions.

    The milder among them think that Trump will ride triumphantly into Washington, throw out all the “curroptocrats” (i.e. every single member of Congress and all federal agencies, Democrat or Republican) and rule like the all-knowing philosopher-king he is.

  50. JKB says:

    Word association of the day for October 10, 2016

    Hillary and jail

  51. An Interested Party says:

    Word associations of the day for October 12, 2016

    JKB and Risperdal

    Trump and loser