‘The Election Ended Wednesday Night’

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Photo: Associated Press via Wikimedia Commons
Media Outlet: Politico

Theodore Johnson wrote for Politico about the third Presidential debate:

Wednesday night was supposed to be the “prepared” Donald Trump. What we saw, though, was that even the most prepared version of Trump couldn’t avoid the self-sabotage that’s become typical of his campaign. He started off steady enough throwing red meat to the party base on the Constitution and tax cuts. But he then made the unthinkable declaration that the yet-to-occur election is somehow rigged, and, as such, he isn’t sure if he will accept the results. This admission will dominate the election conversation not just for the foreseeable future, but as a moment forever etched in political history. We have all heard of a faithless elector. But a faithless nominee?
Yet somehow, this will not seal the deal for Hillary Clinton any more than the previous serial missteps of the Trump campaign. Trump’s performance Wednesday was not about expanding his appeal to undecided and independent voters; the goal (at least in theory) was to stick to policy, bringing Republicans off the fence and white voters off the sidelines. His approach was to paint a depressed and defeated America that only he can fix. The prevailing lesson of 2016 is that there is, indeed, an audience for it.


Theodore Johnson is an Eric & Wendy Schmidt Fellow at New America. He is a national security research manager and an adjunct professor at the Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy.