Three theories of Trump's rise

But if Trump’s polls don’t quite mean what the headlines imply, what do they mean exactly? And even if you take them with a dose of skepticism, could he win the nomination anyway? (Spoiler alert: Yes, although I continue to think Trump’s chances are lower than where betting markets put them.1)

Before we all decamp for Des Moines next week,2 let’s take one more theoretical look at the Republican race. In fact, we’ll take three of them. As far as I can tell, there are three main theories about the rise of Trump; respectively, they pin the credit (or blame) for Trump on Republican voters, Republican elites and the news media. Each theory interprets his polls differently and comes to different conclusions about how much staying power he might have in the new year.