“She’s nasty, but I can be nastier than she ever can be."
That's the takeaway quote from a disturbing article in the Times out tonight, describing an agitated, febrile Donald Trump, off the high of his overnight Twitter rampage but settled into a steady rage over a week of humiliations and electoral reverses. Trump's biggest liability and weakness through his eighteen months as a politician has been his inability to focus or rule his emotions. He goes off on jags in which he seems to forget what he's at least notionally trying to do: win an election. In the quotation above, his rage against Clinton and Alicia Machado appears to have deluded him into believing that the election is a contest to see who can be the bigger monster. There is little basis to believe that this is how most voters judge the race.
I sense this has gotten little attention given all that's happened in the news today. But it seems both a revealing and embarrassing nugget of news. So I wanted to share it with you. Last week Rudy Giuliani gave a speech at an awards dinner for a financial services trade group in New York City. The event was the 40 under 40 Dinner hosted by the Commercial Finance Association at the Waldorf Astoria hotel. So far nothing too surprising. But on Monday the CFA felt compelled to send out an email to attendees and members apologizing for Giuliani's “unscripted personal opinions.” Less delicately, the apology was required because what CFA CEO Bob Trojan delicately termed 'unscripted personal opinions' would more frankly be called racist digressions, jokes and jabs.
This week's episode of my new podcast is a treat. I talk to Professor Charles Franklin, one of the nation's top polling experts. Charles is also the outside consultant we work with for statistical and methodology questions tied to PollTracker. We're now in the thick of a presidential campaign. Everybody's obsessing about polls, everybody gets worried about polls and everybody - at least real political junkies - knows some of the basics of how polls work. But I thought it would be interesting and helpful to run some basic questions by a true expert. That way you and I could both get a really grounded understanding. Should you try to un-skew polls if the crosstabs look weird? How do pollsters "weight" samples? Are the online polls as good as the traditional phone polls? We get into all of that and more in this week's podcast. I hope you enjoy it.
We've seen a lot of Trump meltdowns. But I'm not sure we've seen one quite like this one with Alicia Machado. We had a recent preview with what I believe was his reaction to being gently rebuked by Pastor Faith Green Timmons of Flint, Michigan. But here we appear to have a special confluence of events. Trump becomes unhinged whenever he is challenged or insulted or injured by someone he perceives as beneath him in the gender or racial hierarchy. The list is almost endless: Hillary Clinton, Alicia Machado, Obama, the Khans, Judge Curiel. Trump is a bully who lives in a zero sum psychic economy of dominance. There are dominators and the dominated. That operates with white men too, as we saw in the Republican primaries. But when the injury comes from someone he believes is beneath him, there is a special intensity and charge. Taking down a Bush or a Cruz, Trump was vicious and dominating but seemingly in control. He wielded his aggressive bullying as a weapon. There's aggression but not rage. In these other cases, he's clearly not in control. It overcomes him.
Yes, even if it's not about the glory, joining TPM Prime gives you an expanded, smoother, faster, less ad-cluttered TPM to read every day and also supports our independent journalism.
I'd recommend everybody bear in mind the dynamic we've discussed several times recently, which is that the presidential race has with a fair consistency oscillated between a substantial Clinton lead and a minuscule Clinton lead (ref the 'Clinton Wall'). That said, we seem to be back in the Trump fall off part of the cycle. The TPM Electoral Scoreboard stands at Clinton 302, Trump 203, where it's been for the last couple days. But within those numbers, over the last 48 hours we've gotten a range of quality state polls taken after Monday night's debate. And they're uniformly bad for Trump.