When President Obama lost the first debate of 2012 to Mitt Romney, he didn’t immediately realize how badly he had done — or how harsh the judgments were about his performance. In the hours afterward, one after another of his advisers told him that it wasn’t that his critics were bashing him unfairly, it was that his performance had fallen short.
His advisers began with gentle descriptions, which became more blunt. Obama didn’t fully understand what had gone wrong until he watched a video of the debate a few days later. “I get it,” he told campaign manager David Plouffe. He vowed to win the final two debates.
Trump has done the opposite, rejecting post-debate polls and the assessment even of many Republicans that he lost the debate during the final 60 minutes. Instead, he’s grasped onto unscientific Internet surveys that portray him the winner. When Jason Miller, the campaign’s senior communications adviser, appeared Thursday on MSNBC’s “MTP Daily” and cited several online polls that are subjected to no statistical rigor, an exasperated Chuck Todd, the host, said the campaign was “creating a reality that does not exist.”
This is an alternate reality created by Trump for Trump. My Post colleagues Phil Rucker and Bob Costa and I got an insight into this personality trait when we interviewed him almost a year ago at his office in Trump Tower overlooking New York’s Central Park. Trump was riding high at the time, leading the polls for the Republican nomination and feeling buoyant.