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.
While Trump started off successfully haranguing Clinton on trade and the economy, Clinton regrouped, hit Trump hard on his refusal to release his tax returns and birtherism, and then, at the very end—after interrupting Lester Holt’s attempt to move on to the final question—landed a devastating blow by highlighting Trump’s sexism:
CLINTON: And one of the worst things he said was about a woman in a beauty contest. He loves beauty contests, supporting them and hanging around them. And he called this woman "Miss Piggy." Then he called her "Miss Housekeeping," because she was Latina. Donald, she has a name.
TRUMP: Where did you find this? Where did you find this?
CLINTON: Her name is Alicia Machado.
Machado, as we all know by now, is a former Miss Universe who recently became a U.S. citizen and, not surprisingly given the way Trump shamed her, Hillary Clinton supporter.
A smart candidate would have done his or her best to change the subject after such a withering attack, one that hit at both Trump’s sexism and racism. But Donald Trump is not that candidate.
Instead as our pundit Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post points out: “[T]he GOP nominated the most unstable, ignorant, bigoted and ethically deficient candidate ever to have gotten a major-party nomination — arguably the only Republican in the field who could not have shown Clinton up on the stage Monday night.”
So naturally Trump went on the attack, pointing out that Machado was once accused of driving her boyfriend away from a crime scene after he shot someone and of maybe threatening a judge. But instead of quieting down and letting the Clinton campaign decide how much it wanted to align itself with a controversial figure, Trump unleashed a middle-of-the night tweetstorm.
Wow, Crooked Hillary was duped and used by my worst Miss U. Hillary floated her as an "angel" without checking her past, which is terrible!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 30, 2016
Using Alicia M in the debate as a paragon of virtue just shows that Crooked Hillary suffers from BAD JUDGEMENT! Hillary was set up by a con.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 30, 2016
Did Crooked Hillary help disgusting (check out sex tape and past) Alicia M become a U.S. citizen so she could use her in the debate?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 30, 2016
Trump skeptics who are already tired of Trump’s shenanigans could only ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
If you have to ask "why is the campaign not controlling the candidate," the candidate sucks. He's supposed to control the campaign.— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) September 30, 2016
Things I just learned this morning: Donald Trump watched the Paris Hilton sex tape even though he'd known her since she was a baby— John Podhoretz (@jpodhoretz) September 30, 2016
That's kind of a metaphor for his candidacy. Trump supporters were promised a sex tape, but there's no there there.— Noah Rothman (@NoahCRothman) September 30, 2016
For a longer take, we go back to Rubin, who is backing Hillary and sees Trump’s meltdown as a victory for a certain segment of the party: “This was, of course, precisely what #NeverTrump Republicans warned would happen: An emotionally unstable, raging narcissist would suffer some type of public breakdown, confirming the gross malfeasance of the Republican National Committee and the foolishness of his backers.”
That is, of course, small comfort. Now, on to the tracker: