This was supposed to be the campaign’s quiet period. When I left on vacation two weeks ago, the presidential contest was close and the volatility of the Republican nominee was on full display. I return to a campaign marked by a sizable lead for Hillary Clinton, thanks in no small part to the continued volatility of the Republican nominee. Two weeks ago, anxious Democrats talked about their Electoral College advantages as a way of reassuring themselves that despite uncomfortably close polls they would prevail in November. Today they quietly talk about winning back the House. Perhaps I should go on vacation more often.
There is a lot to unpack here, and I will get to it as soon as I attend to my luggage. Perhaps the most salient point is that, for all the top line changes, the structure of the presidential contest remains remarkably stable. The buoyancy we predicted in Hillary’s post-convention numbers has come to pass, along with the attendant bellicosity in Trump’s behavior. In the coming days we will examine how this sets things up for the fall contest and talk about the future of Trump and Trumpism as the Republican leadership continues to avoid dealing with the existential problem posed by its base. I’ll take a look at what to expect in the weeks ahead once I shake my jet lag.