And the pièce de résistance happened Thursday night on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” Trump not only cracked jokes and seemed self-deprecatingly likeable, he even (gasp!) let Fallon mess with his hair! Video of that hair tussle is already going viral on Internet, (“Jimmy Fallon” has been #1 trending on Twitter since), making the image something akin to Bill Clinton playing the sax on the old “Arsenio Hall Show” in 1992. Yes, both scenes are similarly intellectually meaningless, but they’re still politically potent. And because Trump has been such a media punching bag and pariah, this moment could be even more helpful than Clinton’s was 24 years ago.
Ten-point surges don’t just happen overnight. It’s much more likely that Trump’s relative weakness in the earlier polls was a result of voters leaning towards him, but not being ready to say so… even to anonymous pollsters. But Trump’s softened messages, Clinton’s “deplorables” comment, and her medical scare with frightening video of her looking totally immobilized to go with it have all provided those voters the excuse to finally “come out” for Trump. This phenomenon is well named by Dilbert cartoonist and blogger Scott Adams, who calls these events the “fake because.” They’re “fake” because the voters were always going to vote a certain way, but highly visible episodes make it possible to say: “well, now I’m voting for candidate X because…”