Donald Trump has led the Real Clear Politics national polling average for 91 straight days. Today, he leads by two points over Ben Carson and more than 13 points over the rest of the field. He’s even more dominant in key states. Recent polling has shown Trump with sizable leads in Iowa (+5), New Hampshire (+19), Nevada (+16), South Carolina (+18), Virginia (+6), Florida (+12) and Ohio (+5).
It wasn’t supposed to be this way.
Since the day that Trump’s presidential campaign started, pundits from across the country have declared the “beginning of the end” of his run. They’ve said it on ABC, NBC, and CBS; on CNN, MSNBC, and FOX; in the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the LA Times. They said it when he insulted John McCain and when he insulted Megyn Kelly. They said it when he called Mexican immigrants rapists and when he made fun of Carly Fiorina’s face. So far, they’ve been wrong every time.
Here are 33 quotes about the imminent demise of Trump’s candidacy:
Tim Skubick, MLive Michigan: “Donald Trump’s immigration remarks were beginning of his end.” [7/13/15]
Nate Cohn, New York Times: “The beginning of the end of the Donald Trump surge.” [7/18/15]
Bill Kristol, Weekly Standard:
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) July 18, 2015
Cecilia Vega, ABC News: “Some now predicting, Martha, this could be the beginning of the end for Trump’s candidacy.” [7/19/15, This Week]
Ruth Marcus, Washington Post: “And I don’t think this is the end, but I think, and this may be a little bit wishful thinking, it might be the beginning of the end.” [7/19/15, Face The Nation]
Julianna Goldman, CBS: “Republican strategists tell us they think this is the beginning of the end for Trump’s candidacy, but they don’t expect him to go quietly. Still, it will take a few days to see how these latest comments are affecting him in the polls.” [7/19/15, CBS Evening News]
Kevin Madden, CNN: “Look, I don’t think the apology will matter. I think the original statement that he made is going to — so many people are going to find it offensive that this is probably starting of the beginning of the end for Donald Trump.” [7/20/15]
Doug Heye, Republican strategist: “Republican Strategist Doug Heye says the McCain comments could be the beginning of the end of Donald Trump’s campaign.” [7/20/15]
Lindsay Graham, U.S. Senator: “He’s becoming a jackass at a time when we need to have a serious debate about the future of the party in the country. And this is the beginning of the end of Donald Trump.” [7/21/15]
Jonah Goldberg, Los Angeles Times: “The Trump squall is not over, alas. But it’s nonetheless obvious that we will someday soon look back on this as the beginning of the end of Trumpmania.” [7/22/15]
Abby Huntsman, CNN: “I think this could be the beginning of the end for Donald Trump.” [8/7/15]
McCay Coppins, Buzzfeed: “[T]he case could be made that last night was the beginning of the end of the Trump bubble, because it was clear on both sides, from FOX News and from Trump, that there’s no love lost anymore between those two entities. And that’s important.” [8/7/15, MSNBC]
Erick Erickson, Fox News: “’I think he has disqualified himself,’ Erickson told reporters, adding that the episode ‘probably is the beginning of the end’ for Trump.” [8/8/15]
Mark Halperin, Bloomberg Politics: “So I think going forward, the establishment, the other candidates, the press, it’s kind of an iron triangle saying Trump is dead. This is the beginning of the end.” [8/9/15, Bloomberg News]
Eric Zorn, Chicago Tribune: “Nevertheless, I believe we saw the beginning of the end of the Trump campaign on that stage in Cleveland” [8/9/15]
Jeff Zeleny, CNN: “I’m beginning to think he may not ever be on a ballot at all because that is something his brand will not be able to tolerate, losing on the ballot. I think we’re seeing the beginning of the end.” [8/9/15]
Ben Jacobs, Guardian: “GOP frontrunner’s jab at Megyn Kelly may be beginning of end.” [8/10/15]
Cary Gibson, US News: “Could this be the beginning of the end of Donald Trump? Earlier this week, the Republican candidate made some, frankly, awful remarks about fellow candidate Carly Fiorina.” [9/11/15]
Rand Paul, Presidential Candidate: “If Trump keeps up his sophomoric insults, particularly of women… and I think if he does that directly to a woman on stage, I think it’ll be the beginning of the end.” [9/16/15]
Sara Fagen, CNBC: “[W]e will look back at last night’s debate and see it as the beginning of the end of Donald Trump’s grip atop the GOP field.” [9/17/15]
Jamelle Bouie, Slate: “The good news is that this debate might mark the beginning of the end for Trump, who struggled to tackle substantive questions on foreign policy, his advisers, and what he’d actually do as president of the United States.” [9/17/15] Dana Milbank, Washington Post: “Could this be the beginning of the end of Donald Trump?” [9/17/15]
Lynn Sweet, Chicago Sun-Times: “Last night was not the end of the road, but it could be the beginning of the end of the road or the beginning of the next chapter where the laws of political gravity impact [Trump].” [9/17/15]
Chuck Todd, NBC: “I think this is the week we`re going to look back on and say maybe this was the beginning of the end of Trump ‘16.” [9/18/15, NBC Nightly News]
David Axelrod, CNN: “Q: [I]s this what the beginning of the end looks like for Donald Trump? AXELROD: I think so…I think Donald Trump failed the test at the end of the week when he was confronted with that questioner about the president’s — who accused the president, again of being a closet Muslim.” [9/19/15]
Jonathon Capehart, Washington Post: “The beginning of the end of Trump.” [9/20/15]
Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post: “The beginning of the end of Trump.” [9/24/15]
Arianna Huffington, Huffington Post: “The Beginning Of The End for Trump: His Sarah Palin Moment.” [9/22/15]
Ron Radosh, PJ Media: “The Beginning of the End for Trump’s Presidential Campaign.” [9/27/15]
Robert Tracinski, The Federalist: “The Beginning of the End for Donald Trump? Donald Trump goes from winner to whiner.” [9/25/15]
Harry Enten, 538: “Was The Second Debate The Beginning Of The End For Donald Trump?…Eight national polls of GOP voters have been conducted related to the Republican race for president since the debate, and they show a couple of clear winners and losers — Fiorina won; Trump lost.” [9/24/15]
Matthew Dowd, ABC News: “I know we’re going to talk about the Pope in the next section, but what his contrast is, which is I think the beginning of the end of Donald Trump, in the course of this election. And I think you can put some of it on the Francis’ effect, which is the contrast between the Pope’s modesty, humility, compassion and Donald Trump’s emphasis on his narcissism, meanness, division.” [9/27/15, ABC This Week]
Igor Bobic, Huffington Post: “We might be seeing the beginning of the end of Donald Trump. After failing to outshine his more energetic opponents in the second 2016 GOP presidential debate, Trump has begun to slide in national primary polling, according to both the Real Clear Politics polling average and the HuffPost Pollster average.” [9/27/15]
At some point, of course, these predictions might be right. Even accepting that Trump has an average chance of becoming president compared to the rest of the field, there are still nearly 20 other people running. Chances are, like most everyone else, he will lose.
But how are the nation’s savviest political pundits so consistently wrong about Trump? It may have less to do with them and more to do the nature of democracy. The outcome of elections depends on people, and people are strange and unpredictable. No one knows how this election is going to end.
Some observers have suggested that the ongoing speculation about Trump’s demise may actually be helping his campaign. “We’ve seen a lot of headlines that this is the end for Trump, or the beginning of the end for Trump. And it hasn’t been the end for Trump,” Megyn Kelly, who is frequently the target of Trump’s attacks, said in late September. “And in fact, whenever anybody predicts that, his numbers go back up.”