Thus far, a number of media organizations have given Donald Trump fawning coverage. Fox News’s Outnumbered, for instance, has praised Mr. Trump for tapping into the anger GOP activists have towards the GOP establishment for weeks.
Mr. Trump’s lead seemingly grows each day, mostly because the Trump campaign touts yet another poll showing his lead growing in another poll. If you watch the coverage, whether it’s NBC’s, CNN’s or some of Fox’s daytime shows (The Five and Outnumbered stand out), most of the conversation has been about ‘Donald Trump said another outrageous thing but his lead keeps growing. What do you think of that phenomenon, Bill?’
The minute the coverage shifts from ‘Trump made another outrageous statement’ to ‘Carly Fiorina has a plan to cut the federal government down to size’ is the minute that the debate shifts. That isn’t a fight Mr. Trump can win, partially because Ms. Fiorina can compare her plans to streamline the federal tax code and eliminating many of President Obama’s regulatory overreaches with Mr. Trump’s bragging during Thursday night’s debate about buying politicians.
Yesterday, George Will brought up an important thing about winning elections in Iowa when he said “Time will come when politics becomes blocking and tackling. You go to Iowa. You have to organize. You have to sit in a lot of living rooms with a macaroon in one hand and a cup of hot chocolate in the other. Now, picture Donald Trump doing that. I can’t.”
Thus far, Mr. Trump hasn’t put together an organization in any of the early states. The time-tested axiom about Iowa and New Hampshire is that precinct captains don’t decide on a candidate in the first 2-3 visits and individual voters don’t decide until they’ve talked with the candidate 5-6 times.
One thing that’s apparently getting cleared up is that Mr. Trump is having second thoughts about running as a third party candidate:
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus has directly called on all candidates to pledge not to make a third-party run. The Republican Party has leverage here: senior GOP officials say it is possible that future debates could be limited to candidates who have pledged support for the party — a move that could leave Trump out of debates if he is still leaving open the possibility of running as an independent.
If Mr. Trump wants that voter information, which he should want, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus should require Mr. Trump to sign a contract stating that he won’t run as a third party candidate. If Mr. Trump isn’t willing to do that, then the RNC should withhold this voter information from Mr. Trump.
After Thursday night’s debate, Mr. Trump told Sean Hannity that he wouldn’t pledge to run as a third party candidate because he wanted to maintain some leverage over the party. Apparently, the RNC has the leverage in this situation. Realistically speaking, a third party run by Trump was never that viable of an option.