The night Donald Trump became a loser

Much like the loyal consumers who read Trump’s books, and wear Trump cufflinks, and grill Trump-branded steaks on their barbecues, the voters who have gravitated toward the Trump campaign in 2016 are generally captivated by his self-styled image as a winner. This is why he can hardly utter three sentences in public without working in a reference to his superior poll numbers. It is why one of the most consistent applause lines in his stump speech is, “We need victories in this country. We don’t have victories anymore.”

Success is always a self-perpetuating force in presidential campaigns — hence the endless pundit chatter about “momentum” — but for Trump, it is closer to the central rationale of his candidacy. And on Monday night, when the glittering sheen of invincibility was abruptly removed, many of his fans inside the Sheraton ballroom were left puzzled and slightly disoriented…

David Wehmas, from the nearby town of Ankeny, said he had been mesmerized by Trump ever since reading his 2007 book, Think Big and Kick Ass. Buying into the bluster about the billionaire’s supremacy in the race, Wehmas had enthusiastically caucused for him Monday. But now, through the prism of Trump’s surprise defeat, he viewed the candidate’s incessant polling talk as somewhat pathetic and beside the point.