Once Trump announced he was running for president, they had to scale back his presence on the shows. But the Fox team seemed to enjoy the early moments of Trump mania. But eventually it got out of hand. By the time of the first debate, he was doubling the nearest competitor in all the early state polls. (He actually has a 3 to 1 lead in South Carolina, a state not known for loving Yankees.)
The debate was crafted to make Trump look as bad as possible. They started with a show of hands question designed to make the crowd boo him. Then Megyn Kelly called him on his sexism. The very same shtick that her network has ridden for ratings glory the past 7 years was now being used as a cudgel against his orange-quaffed head. Things didn't get much better after that. By the end of the night, Mr. Trump was staying up at his beautiful, classy, luxurious, Cleveland hotel room tweeting about how mean Megyn was to him. Thirty tweets in all, between the hours of 2:30 and 4:30 AM.
The next day he continued the attack against Fox pollster Frank Luntz, calling him a loser who once tried to beg for consulting work with Trump's empire. Priceless stuff. The best outcome of this nuthouse in-fighting has been the new conspiracy theory that the Trump campaign is actually an outgrowth of a collusion between Trump and the Clintons to get Hillary elected. This has the very ring of all the right-wing conspiracy theories. Trump won't be the nominee. But he might run as a third party candidate. Now he might just run to spite Fox News. And next year, if Hillary wins with say, 50% of the vote, to Rubio or Bush's 46% and Trump's 3 or 4 percent, the teeming masses of low-information votes will know who to blame. But there will be plenty of blame to go around, for both Dr. Frankenstein and the Monster he waited too long to kill.
On a happier note, two candidates stood out during the debates. Marco Rubio was the clear winner on substance in the prime-time debate. He still comes across as a little too green for the Oval Office, but he had the best night. And in the earlier debate Carly Fiorina stood out for her ruthless ability to say mean things about Hillary Clinton. She is having a moment, and I expect this will lead to her making the prime-time debate next time around, probably at the expense of Chris Christie. Christie was 9th in the polls before Cleveland but Kasich also had a solid performance and Christie was obviously underwhelming to the Republican crowd. I think he will slip to 11th.
Fiorina now has a path to the nomination. It is remote and it will probably go away as people begin to look at her dreadful record as CEO of Hewlet-Packard. But she connected with the base and she has a certain "Little Engine That Could" feel to her now. If Fox News continues to turn on Trump, she may become their new darling.
Before the prime-time debate I went to Paddy Power, an Irish betting web site and wrote down the betting line for each of the top ten candidates to win the nomination. I post them below next to the current odds, about 36 hours after the first debate. There has been very little movement after the debate among the top ten, although Walker and Kasih got modes bounces. I did not note what Fiorina's odds were before the debates, but I'm sure they were longer than 20 to 1. She has had the most buzz in the past 48 hours, and I'm sure the punters have noticed.
|Paddy Power||Pre-debate||Post Debate|
|Trump||8 to 1||8 to 1|
|Bush||5 to 4||5 to 4|
|Walker||4 to 1||5 to 2|
|Rubio||6 to 1||7 to 1|
|Huckabee||20 to 1||25 to 1|
|Santorum||n/a||40 to 1|
|Paul||10 to 1||10 to 1|
|Cruz||25 to 1||25 to 1|
|Kasich||16 to 1||14 to 1|
|Carson||16 to 1||20 to 1|
|Christie||n/a||16 to 1|
|Jindal||n/a||33 to 1|
|Fiorina||n/a||20 to 1|
|Graham||n/a||66 to 1|
|Perry||n/a||40 to 1|
|Pataki||n/a||66 to 1|
|Gilmore||n/a||66 to 1|
Now back to my subtective forecast. I have 4 columns this time, fore my pre-debate numbers, Nate Silver's pre-debate numbers, my current numbers and the change in my numbers before and after the debate. I don't think Nate Silver has updated his subjective forecast yet. He's not very big on subjective and I suspect he'll only do it again right before Iowa.
|Candidate||Pre-debate||Nate Silver||Post 1st Debate||Change|
There are only 4 crooked numbers in that last column. These reflect Rubio gaining a bit at the expense of the other 2 top tier candidates and Carly Fiorina getting her boomlet.