It’s clear that Donald Trump doesn’t like finishing second in any polls anywhere. It’s apparent because he isn’t waiting for others to attack him before attacking his opponents. Last week, when the Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics poll confirmed the results of the Quinnipiac Q-Poll, Mr. Trump’s temper exploded. Mr. Trump then said “We have a breaking story: Donald Trump has fallen to second place behind Ben Carson. We informed Ben, but he was sleeping.” Finally, Mr. Trump said that Carson is “super low energy. We need tremendous energy.”
Lifting a page from Mr. Trump’s playbook, Dr. Carson replied, saying “My energy levels are perfectly fine…There have been many times where I’ve operated 12, 15, 20 hours, and that requires a lot of energy. Doesn’t require a lot of jumping up and down and screaming, but it does require a lot of concentration.”
That’s easily the sharpest jab Dr. Carson has hit Mr. Trump with thus far this campaign. It isn’t a stretch to think that Dr. Carson got the better of that exchange. Likewise, it isn’t a stretch to think that a bit of Trump fatigue is setting in.
That isn’t to say that Mr. Trump’s support is about to disappear. It isn’t disappearing. It’s just that Mr. Trump’s opponents for the GOP nomination have started noticing, then exploiting, Mr. Trump’s vulnerabilities. For instance, Mr. Trump first said that Jeb Bush was low energy. It doesn’t take a mild-mannered neurosurgeon to figure out that that line might be used against him, too.
It’s totally predictable that Dr. Carson have a snappy reply ready if Mr. Trump called him low energy. Clearly, Dr. Carson tried implying that Mr. Trump is mostly famous for “jumping up and down and screaming” while he’s famous for working long hours and displaying lots of concentration.
Initially, some of the bottom tier candidates tried criticizing Trump. When Sen. Graham, (R-SC), criticized Trump, Sen. Graham lost that fight. The first candidate to get the better of Trump was Carly Fiorina during the CNN debate. Since then, Mr. Trump has looked vulnerable.
The shape of the campaign is shifting because advertising is having an effect on the race. Club for Growth’s ads attacking Trump are believed to have played a significant role in Trump’s recent slide in Iowa. More ads in other states are certain to follow, with the Club for Growth exploiting Trump’s love of eminent domain likely their next target. That ad would likely run in New Hampshire, though, where people live up to the state’s nickname of the ‘Live free or die state.”
It will be interesting to see how these shifting dynamics will factor into the outcome Wednesday in CNBC’s GOP Presidential Debate from Colorado. With Trump likely to come out guns blazing, there might be a taste of the wild, wild west Wednesday night.