According to Republican pollster Frank Luntz, Donald Trump may have singlehandedly turned the tide of the race with Sunday’s debate performance in St. Louis. Luntz, who assembled a focus group of voters to watch the debate, said afterwards that Trump was still in the game.
“I may have made a mistake in writing off Trump,” Luntz tweeted. “After talking with voters tonight, he’s back in this race.”
When Luntz’s focus group came in, they were split almost evenly: eight members were leaning towards Hillary Clinton and nine of them were leaning towards Trump. When Luntz surveyed them again at the end of the debate, only four remained in Hillary’s corner. The rest of them were ready to vote for The Donald.
No doubt about it, Trump turned in a masterful performance on Sunday night. Whether driven by intense preparation or pure competitive desire, he took the gloves off and delivered the public whipping Hillary Clinton has deserved for decades. In a brilliant gambit, Trump invited Bill Clinton’s sexual assault victims to the debate, unnerving Hillary from the very first moments of the encounter. One look at her face was enough to know that the move had had the desired effect.
Throughout the night, Trump stayed on the attack. In one jaw-dropping moment, he promised to appoint a special prosecutor to look more closely into Hillary’s email situation. Later, when Hillary said she was glad Trump wasn’t in charge of the Justice Department, Trump backhanded her with: “Yeah, you’d be in jail.”
The media won’t let Trump have his victory, of course. They will keep playing that Access Hollywood tape until it’s been heard by every man, woman, and houseplant in the country.
But for those who watched with their own eyes, Trump’s success can not be denied. With the entire Republican Party establishment gnawing on their fingernails, ready to pull the plug on the whole thing, he rescued himself from an impossibly-fierce firestorm.
Sunday night’s debate showed why millions of Republican voters, despite being disgusted by that 2005 tape (and several other Donaldisms), are standing behind the nominee no matter what. Trump isn’t going up against St. Hillary of Arkansas; he’s going up against a family dynasty of corruption and criminality. He’s going up against a political establishment desperate to hold onto power. He’s going up against pure evil.
Those forces will stop at nothing to keep Trump out of the White House.
Sunday night, Trump proved that he’s willing to go just as far as they are.