Donald J. Trump, the poll leader for the last five months in the Republican presidential race, is about to find out whether he has permanently changed the rules of politics, or if some of those old standards still linger.

His long-promised “next phase” defined by new spending, such as a wave of television commercials, has so far failed to materialize, week after week. His advisers have not revealed the existence of any pollsters on their staff or any advertising team. He has no real research operation to examine his own vulnerabilities or those of his opponents and, based on Federal Election Commission filings, little in the way of a voter contact operation to identify and turn out his supporters…

Beyond spending just over $200,000 on a radio advertising buy last month, Mr. Trump has not made any television reservations. For a candidate fond of a deal, Mr. Trump’s resistance to put down cash on commercials ahead of time could wind up costing him more than necessary.

1] You sent a tweet suggesting a new party would have to be started if Donald Trump wins the GOP nomination. Were you serious? Would you leave the Republican party if he does win the nomination?

KRISTOL: I was semi-serious. I don’t think Trump will be the nominee, so I don’t expect it to be an issue. But since I don’t think I could support Trump, and I’d like to have someone to vote for, if Trump were to be the nominee, I’d be open to a new party, probably for 2016 only — but you never know…

3] Ok, lay out for me a scenario in which Donald Trump does not win the nomination. Who overtakes him? And when?

KRISTOL: Trump loses Iowa, the mystique disappears, he’s just another candidate — though perhaps a formidable one — and he’s beaten by either [Marco] Rubio, [Ted] Cruz or [Chris] Christie.

While other candidates spend their time at small-scale retail events interacting one-on-one with voters, Trump’s campaign centerpiece is the large-scale rally, where he is greeted like a rock star by thousands of adoring — and increasingly boisterous — fans. The events are often held in arenas and convention centers, with crowd sizes that dwarf his rivals — a fact he is never shy to point out…

“This is better than a concert in the ’70s,” said Trump supporter Bill Kullander, ahead of a recent rally in Des Moines, Iowa — the fourth the 62-year-old had attended so far this year…

“Look, everywhere I go, I have crowds like this. Everywhere. Everywhere. We have the biggest crowds by far. Because there’s a movement going on, folks,” he said at a post-debate rally in Mesa, Arizona, earlier this month. “This isn’t just like let’s go and have a good time.”

“We have a message, we have a message and the message is we don’t want to let other people take advantage of us,” Trump said.

In states with early primary contests, Trump’s staffers are trying to teach their supporters how to vote and get a commitment that they actually will. Before each rally here, Trump’s state co-chairs walk the crowd through how the caucuses work and urge them to attend. But they are also hoping word will spread through social media and in conversations after church, at the school bus stop, during coffee breaks and over holiday dinners…

But just as Trump doesn’t spend money on pollsters or focus groups, the campaign has yet to purchase databases of potential voters, a key organizing tool used by most campaigns. Instead of buying such a tool from a private contractor, the campaign has compiled its own database using contact information from every rally attendee, either when they registered online or showed up at the door…

Trump’s Iowa team remains confident that his rally crowds will serendipitously translate into caucus support. Sam Clovis, Trump’s Iowa co-chair, pointed to a rally Trump held in Clay County in northwest Iowa in early December. Only 16,500 people live in the county, but 1,500 showed up at the rally in Spencer, and Clovis said he asked the crowd how many had never caucused before.

“Twenty percent of the hands went up,” Clovis said. “And I said: How many of you are going to caucus this time? Same 20 percent of hands went up, because he has done something. This is something that’s not reflected in the polls. It’s not reflected in any of the ways that you go out and count things.”

Inside the White House, poetic justice looks a lot like Donald Trump.

Past and present aides to President Barack Obama are gloating that a Republican leadership they say defined themselves by blustery opposition—and used it to win the House, then the Senate, and stand in the White House’s way at every turn—is getting devoured by a candidate personifying the anger agenda…

“Coming out of 2008 and the demographic changes in the country, Republicans needed energy, and instead of reaching for new ideas and new leadership, they reached for the political equivalent of Four Loko,” said Hari Sevugan, a senior spokesman for Obama’s 2008 campaign. “Sure it gives a shot of energy, but it eventually rots your brain and kills you.”…

Going into next year, Obama will be speaking out against Trump, as he did indirectly in several pro-immigration speeches earlier this month and by name in an interview with NPR last week, when he argued that the Republican frontrunner is exploiting the fears of “particularly blue-collar men [who] have had a lot of trouble in this new economy.” And pushing back against Trump will be a central theme of Obama’s international engagement.

“I’ve been listening to him lately, and you notice he’s toned down the rhetoric,” Kasich, who’s also running for the GOP nomination, said of Trump on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “I listened to your six-minute coverage of him, and he’s toning it down.”

“And I’m just hoping that as we go forward he’s going to be a unifier,” he said. “Because I’m going to tell you, you can’t win the White House without winning Ohio. If we have a candidate that comes into Ohio who is a divider, there’s no chance they’re going to win it.”

Some might take that as a backhanded compliment. Can the GOP really be so out of touch with the legions of out-of-work Americans — many of whom don’t show up in the “official” unemployment rate because they’ve given up looking for work in the Obama economy? With the returning military vets frustrated with lawyer-driven, politically correct rules of engagement that have tied their hands in a fight against a mortal enemy? With those who, in the wake of the Paris and San Bernardino massacres by Muslims, reasonably fear an influx of culturally alien “refugees” and “migrants” from the Middle East?

With those who fear for their own families’ futures and the future of the country as founded?…

In the movie business, there’s something called the “cheer moment,” when the long-suffering hero finally decks his tormentor with a satisfying right cross. What the Beltway Republicans fail to understand is that their conservative base — which gave them stunning congressional victories in 2010 and 2014 and has nothing to show for it — has been longing for precisely that moment since Reagan crushed Mondale 49-1 in 1984.

The Trumpkins are sick of winning and having nothing to show for it, and their vengeance will be terrible. Maybe the Establishment should stop belittling them and listen instead.

If you let the corrupt media set the debate terms, Republicans lose because those rules are always structured in a way to benefit Democrats. Creepy, extremist, dishonest issues that should have disqualified Barack Obama from running for dog catcher, much less president (Reverend Wright, Bill Ayers, Tony Rezko, hidden records, and Benghazi), were declared OFF LIMITS. Unable to take the media pressure, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Mitt Romney surrendered…

Trump understands the potency of the Democrats’ phony War on Women card. Trump also understands that when it comes to playing that card, the DC Media is a huge ally to Democrats. This is why Trump long ago positioned his chess pieces to immediately shut down these phony attacks.

Using the truth, Trump will GO THERE. In return, as we saw with Wright, Ayers, Rezko, and Benghazi, the DC Media will attempt to make it blowback on him. But as we have seen with everything else our lying media has attempted to cover up, Trump will not back down.

On the other hand, our lily-livered Republican Establishment, fearing this media blowback and too incompetent to deal with it, will just roll over and lose the 2016 election. Hillary and her DC Media allies will manufacture another Todd Akin, and the GOP will respond by once again assuming the fetal position.

I think I am beginning to get a sense of Trump. When it comes to what is important, beginning with immigration, Trump’s instincts are as formidable as his courage. Notwithstanding Cruz and his consistent conservatism (in which Bozell places great stock), immigration wouldn’t even be a campaign issue without Donald Trump. In my opinion, the Trump plan is absoutely essential to any possible return, as Bozell puts it, to America’s constitutional foundations and Judeo-Christian principles. I actually think of it as our last shot…

As Trump makes clear, our country’s representatives have no clue. Worse, they seem content to remain in ignorance no matter how many Americans die, no matter how far sharia spreads. Not Trump. When you think about it, his call for a Muslim immigration moratorium is really a no-brainer — but whose “politically correct” brain is capable even of thinking of it, let alone calling for it out loud? I regret to say that Sen. Cruz does not support Trump’s moratorium, deferring instead to a rosier vision of Islam and immigration screening both in order, politely, to reject it.

That’s too bad, but so it goes, further testament to the fearless, agenda-setting powers of Trump. It’s really quite incredible: soon, maybe even before it’s too late, GOP primary voters will have a clear choice on walls, borders, immigration, even Islamic immigration (and, I would hope, the related issue of Islamic law), all because Donald Trump plucked these crucial issues from the void where the politicians, including good conservatives, have been eager to leave them.

Go Trump!

Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump said he “expected to win” the Republican nomination during an interview with ABC News’ Jonathan Karl.

“Otherwise we wouldn’t be running,” Trump said, adding, “I like to win.”…

“I am winning. I am beating everybody and, in my opinion, beating Hillary is easier than beating these people,” he said, referring to his Republican primary opponents.