The moment in Thursday’s debate that explains why Trump is winning

Even with all the breathless predictions of catastrophe from many Republicans in recent weeks, relatively few elected officials have actually come out and said they would not support Trump in November under any circumstances — whether that meant staying home, holding out for some still-unseen third-party alternative or actually pulling the lever for Hillary Clinton. Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska and the former New Jersey governor, Christie Whitman, have all said they would choose one of those alternatives. I’m sure there have been others, but not many. The band has been more of an a cappella group than a full orchestra to this point. That would have changed instantly had Cruz, Rubio or John Kasich actually joined them, which I would have thought — given some of the scorched-earth rhetoric — at least Cruz and Rubio would be ready to do.

But nuh-uh. All three of them answered the question by reiterating their vow to support the Republican nominee, even if it were Trump. Wow. This was the moment where Vince McMahon and all the W.W.E. performers came out and assured everyone not to worry, that they would never let things get really out of hand here. They were all just following a script and putting on the same old show.

If it were Trump in second or third place, and he felt as aggrieved as Rubio and Cruz supposedly do, there is no way he would promise to support the nominee. No way.