What do conservative Trump skeptics think of his rise?

What Conservative Trump Skeptics Think of His Rise in the Polls

What Conservative Trump Skeptics Think of His Rise in the Polls

The Slatest
Your News Companion
Sept. 16 2016 5:19 PM

This Week’s Conservative Pundit Tracker: Stock Up on Canned Goods Edition

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Supporters cheer for Donald Trump during a campaign rally in Canton, Ohio. Recent polls show Trump with a slight lead over Hillary Clinton in the state.

Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

Each week we’re publishing a new chart showing where our group of 25 right-wing pundits stand on the question of Trump, and you’ll be able to look back at past weeks to see if minds are changing. Our categories are “Voting Trump,” “Voting Clinton,” “Not Voting,” “Someone Else,” and “Inscrutable.” Someone else means either a third party candidate or a write-in. Inscrutable includes pundits who have voiced opposition to both Trump and Clinton, but are otherwise undecided, and those who are sharply critical of Trump but haven’t stated a preferred alternative. Click on a pundit’s head to see what he or she has said about the election this week. (If someone doesn’t write or speak or tweet—crazy, but possible—in a given week, we’ll assume they are “thinking…” Also: We are scouring the internet obsessively, but it’s a big place and it’s possible someone will say something that we miss. We are confident you’ll let us know in comments if so!)

Will the Inscrutables pull it together come November? Will anyone else jump on the Hillary train? Will more pundits coalesce around a third-party candidate? Or will everyone eventually fall into line for Trump between now and Election Day? Keep an eye on this weekly tracker to find out.

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Even knowing that Hillary Clinton was going through a bad stretch—calling Trump supporters a “basket of deplorables” late last week; collapsing after leaving the Sept. 11 memorial ceremony, only later to reveal that she had been diagnosed with pneumonia—didn’t prepare anyone, including our conservative pundits, for the polling news that came out Wednesday.

Republican nominee Donald Trump, once thought to be going the way of Walter Mondale in 1984, was leading polls in the swing states of Ohio and Florida. National polls had put the two extremely unpopular candidates within a couple points of each other.

“Trump now has a legitimate shot at winning the general because he got the lucky draw of at least the second-worst presidential nominee in recent memory,” Rich Lowry wrote at Politico.

“Only truly gifted Hillary surrogates can spin a disturbing and serial lack of transparency into something as poetic as ‘uncomplaining stoicism,’” wrote S.E. Cupp in the New York Daily News.

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And Trump supporter Hugh Hewitt is giddy at what this all means for the down-ballot races. On his radio show, he told NBC’s Chuck Todd that his Republican sources say, “Republican incumbents are ahead in every race in the country. Every single race, they’re ahead. The data does not prove that Hillary Clinton is lifting up Democrats.”

One sobering comment comes from the Week’s Michael Brendan Dougherty, who has vowed not to vote for either candidate. In a column addressing the claim that Clinton has faced harsher treatment from the media than Trump, he wrote:    

Hillary Clinton is judged basically like a normal major party candidate. And on that score, she comes across as less likable than average and more corrupt than average. Donald Trump is a major party candidate too. But he's judged by the score we would keep for utter buffoons, pathological narcissists, inveterate racists, and threats to the republic. And on that score, he comes across as one of the more charming and bearable specimens.

While our Trump skeptics acknowledge the reality of the polls, they are not yet ready to line up behind even a charming and bearable buffoon. No movement this week. We'll have to see how the birther story plays next week. On to the tracker.

Rachael Larimore is the online managing editor of the Weekly Standard and a former Slate senior editor.

Osita Nwanevu is a Slate staff writer.

Andrew Kahn is Slate’s assistant interactives editor. Follow him on Twitter.

Chris Kirk is a web developer at New York magazine and Slate’s former interactives editor. Follow him on Twitter.

Holly Allen is a Slate web designer.