Trump’s Last Two Clubs

Wrapping Up a Uniquely Divisive Candidacy and Its Rhetoric

Donald Trump loves golf and last night, after ignoring his caddy and shooing his squad, he grabbed for his final two clubs: calling Hillary Clinton, who is set to the become the first female President of the United States a “nasty woman” after refusing to agree to the will of the people on Election Day if he loses, demurring that he’ll keep us all “in suspense” until then.

While we wait for pollsters to feed the aggregators and the election modelers, let’s focus in on what happened. Trump rose to prominence as Kevin Costner’s Tin Cup, which follows a “golf hustler whose legendary ball-striking skills are matched only by his self-destructive and low-life charm.” Sound familiar? Can you spot Kellyanne Conway, and others from the Trump Train in this way-too-close representation of his primary campaign?

But in the closing sequence, Trump/Costner has more difficulty when it counts. He tries to do what got him there, bombs away, and loses the tournament he should have won. Trump is always trying to pound the golfball with the driver as hard as he can instead of laying up, or letting go of his ego, when he should. There would be other tournaments for Costner’s character but for Trump there is only blaming the game.

“I will keep you in suspense”

As Chris Wallace expertly set up, Trump’s running mate and his own daughter said that they should all abide by the results of the election. For those who thought these people (Kellyanne Conway said this, too), of all people, would have influence on Trump, they were wrong. This was the second-most tweeted moment of the debate.

“Such a nasty woman”

A snide remark at the end of the debate, barely audible, reinforced the most tweeted-moment of the debate, which was the treatment of women. During the debt and entitlements section, Trump couldn’t contain himself when hit rather mildly by Clinton on her expectation that he would try to get out of paying increased taxes.

The remark got picked up on Twitter in almost a quarter of a million posts, which is significant since it was an off-the-cuff interruption, not a planned attack. The most common emotion expressed in these tweets was disgust.

Final Scorecard

Despite our collective exhaustion from this campaign @HillaryClinton gained over 13,000 followers during the debate, while @realDonaldTrump gained less than half.

This happened all the while Trump was leading the conversation over Clinton on the platform. Note: Twitter didn’t provide whether these interactions were positive or negative.

Finally, the CNN/ORC poll we’ve been using to track the instant reaction to the debates gave Clinton a three-debate sweep. She won the final presidential debate 52% to 39%, which is striking as the latter number has been Trump’s ceiling on RealClearPolitics polling aggregator since the second debate.

Mercifully, the presidential debates are over and we’re into the last ten days of October and its surprises. The Trump Tapes may have sealed the deal last week. Last night didn’t change the dynamic. But if the race is close, it’s not hard anymore to envision Trump not conceding and throwing this over to a divided Supreme Court for a few more wild swings of the club.

Update 10/21: After a bit of RCP average math, Clinton is outperforming (+6%) the median lead (+4%) she’s had over Trump since May 6, 2016. Looking again at the chart above, it’s clear that the debates affected the race and now Trump’s public support deficit 50% worse with less than three weeks until Election Day.


If you enjoyed this article, click the💚 below so other people will see this here on Medium. Follow me on Twitter @michaelcohen. You can follow our research on our website or on Twitter @PEORIAProject, which is funded by a generous grant from Mark R. Shenkman. To learn more about the Graduate School of Political Management visit our website or follow us on Twitter @GSPMgwu.