How Donald Trump schooled the political pundits

People who spend time deconstructing the theatrical aspects of politics to show how the public can be manipulated have resisted the notion that a professional entertainer could really fool the public like this. Even as we analyzed Trump’s support, locating its roots in the Republican base’s contempt for its congressional leaders and a broader feeling of alienation and dissatisfaction among white working-class conservatives, no one thought his success would last.

One way or another, most everyone says, this has to come to an end. Perhaps his relative lack of on-the-ground organization in key states will do him in. Or the Republican establishment will find a way to bring him down. Or voters will coalesce around an alternative to him. Or — and to be honest, this is the one many of us really believe — sooner or later, the voters supporting Trump will come to their senses and realize that the guy is a buffoon and having him run the country is a horrifying prospect. The trouble is that the basis for most of these beliefs isn’t based on evidence.

Among the many unprecedented things about Trump’s campaign, never has a candidate had such a clear lead for so long and yet had his chances of winning the nomination dismissed by so many. This is why the prediction markets rank Marco Rubio as most likely to get the nomination, with Ted Cruz in second place and Trump in third. That’s strange given that national polls show Trump leading with an average of 38 percent, Cruz in second with 18 percent, and Rubio in third with 11 percent (that’s the Pollster.com average; the RealClearPolitics average shows about the same).