Will Trump Lose It?

[ Posted Thursday, October 20th, 2016 – 16:20 UTC ]

OK, I fully admit that headline is nothing more than a bad pun. Will Donald Trump lose the election? At this point, the answer to that is "probably." But when he does lose the election, will Donald Trump completely lose it? That is the more pertinent question being asked now, as he's already signaling that he's not exactly going to take the loss graciously (as all losing candidates are indeed expected to do).

Nobody who understands Trump should be surprised by this, really. Donald Trump's entire persona has always been that of a winner. He was taught by his father, at a very early age, that winning wasn't just a goal but the most important core value a person could have. There were winners in life, and losers. Trump was taught to be a winner, at all costs. It's not overstating the case to say that this is who Donald is, in his own mind: a winner, above all else. What this means is that losing the biggest contest he's ever been in is going to wound Donald right down to the core of his being.

Astonishingly, he seems to have already realized he's going to lose. I say "astonishingly" because most of his followers are completely and utterly convinced he's going to win. The polls all lie, the media lies, and millions of "silent majority" Trump voters are going to appear on Election Day and shame all the pointy-headed "experts" as Trump wins bigly. Don't believe me? Ask a Trump supporter and see if you don't get some version of that as a response.

Normally in politics, this is expected behavior not just from the voters but from the candidates. I cannot remember any previous instance where a candidate wasn't insisting that he or she is going to win, before the election. It is akin to political suicide to even hint you might be headed for a loss. "I'm confident we're going to win" is the only answer any politician will give when asked why they're behind in the polls, for instance. But in this case, Trump is actually admitting he might fall short, three weeks before the votes are counted. That's extraordinary.

Trump isn't just sounding like a loser, though, he's sounding like a very sore loser. When winning is everything in your world, then losing comes very hard. Blame will be placed on anything and everything other than Trump himself. It's the media's fault, for reporting all those words Trump says. It's Hillary Clinton's fault, for the sin of making Trump a loser. It's the Republican Party's fault for not backing him with sufficient fervor. It's the guy who set up the faulty TelePrompTer's fault. It's everyone's fault but Donald's.

All of this is normal sore-loser behavior. And all of it would be completely irrelevant to the political process. Trump whining about how this or that doomed his chances is going to get pretty old pretty fast, in other words. But what if Trump's outrage takes a more ominous turn?

America fought the Civil War because the South was such a sore loser. Between the time Abraham Lincoln was elected and when he was sworn into office, seven states had seceded from the Union. Losing the election was what motivated them to act when they did, in fact. Hopefully, history won't repeat itself this year, as it's pretty far-fetched that any state would attempt secession over Donald Trump's loss. It could happen, but it's not very likely (to say the least).

Short of breaking up the Union, however, anything might happen. If Trump truly does lose it and starts lashing out against Hillary, the election process, the media, the F.B.I., and the federal government in general, he could actually incite people to violence. Which is what everyone's now worried about, after Trump refused to say he'd accept the election results in the final presidential debate. Today, in a rally, Trump said he would only believe the election results if he won. If he loses, he's obviously going to make as big a stink as he possibly can. Does anyone now expect Trump to give a standard concession speech on the night of the election? The possibility of that happening seems to be getting more remote by the day.

A lot of what happens next will depend on how much Trump loses by. If there's a single state which could change the election's results if it flipped, then things could get quite ugly. However, if Clinton wins in an electoral landslide, with so many Electoral College votes that any individual state flipping (even one as large as Florida or Ohio) wouldn't make the slightest difference, then Trump's tantrum won't carry much weight at all. In 2000, Florida did determine the election. The recount happened, and the courts stepped in and declared George W. Bush the victor. Al Gore accepted the result, conceded the race, and there was a peaceful transfer of power. But if either Bush or Gore had won by a margin of 30 or more electoral votes, Florida wouldn't have even mattered.

Hillary Clinton now has an excellent chance of winning at least 300 electoral votes -- which is 30 more than she needs to win. Florida is only the third-biggest state (tied with New York at 29) in electoral votes, but the two bigger states are most likely not going to be an issue at all. California's 55 electoral votes are squarely in Clinton's corner. Texas has 38 electoral votes, but the only way this would matter is if the state went for Clinton. If Clinton wins Texas, she's going to be winning in all kinds of surprising states, so even this probably won't matter to Trump's total. If Clinton wins Texas, she might have the chance to get 400 electoral votes, to put this another way.

The reaction to Trump's sore-loser antics will depend on how big a margin Clinton racks up. If it is very close -- 29 electoral votes or less -- then Trump will be demanding recounts and threatening lawsuits. If these don't go his way, his followers might react violently. Or they could react violently immediately after the election.

But what are they going to do, really? What can they do? They're spread out all over the country, and there is no obvious target for their rage (other than Clinton herself, who will be very well protected). There may be scattered groups of Trump supporters (especially in the West) who "pull a Bundy" and take over some federal property and dare the government to evict them -- that's a real possibility, in fact. Even that wouldn't be all that bad, as with winter coming they could be starved and frozen out pretty easily, in most places. I could see militia groups declaring themselves no longer part of America and declaring their own "sovereignty" on remote patches of federal land.

That's all pretty passive, even with the whole "waving guns around and praising the Second Amendment" part of it. But what's horrible to even contemplate is whether Trump losing it on election night might spur some to commit acts of violence -- really, acts of terror -- against government property, government employees, or government agencies. Will there be rioting in the streets in multiple places in America? Will innocent people be killed? At this point, it's impossible to predict. Which, as Clinton pointed out last night, is indeed horrifying.

If a lot of well-armed people who have convinced themselves that Donald Trump is a shoo-in to win the election suddenly hit the brick wall of reality as the votes come in, what are they going to do next? Remember Karl Rove's famous meltdown four years ago, when informed that Ohio had gone to Obama? Imagine Karl with a lot of alcohol in him, and with easy access to a semi-automatic rifle. And further imagine Trump completely losing it on television, loudly screaming that the election had been stolen from him. What happens next?

These questions shouldn't even have to be asked, but we are where we are. Contemplating violent political action -- one definition of terrorism, in fact -- from American citizens in reaction to an election loss used to be unthinkable. Beyond the realm of possibility. Absolutely out of the question. It isn't, any more. We have two and a half weeks to go, and Donald Trump is already saying the election's going to be stolen from him. What is he going to tweet to his followers when every network announces he has lost? We simply don't know the answer to that. That's scary. Will Donald Trump lose it completely on election night? We all better hope not.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


27 Comments on “Will Trump Lose It?”

  1. [1] 
    akadjian wrote:

    I'm actually surprised he's made it this far! I always thought the whole thing was just a publicity stunt and he'd drop out. Guess he kept winning though ... hehe.

    Anyways, loved the article. Sorry haven't been around here much lately. New job has kicked my butt over the last 6 months.


    P.s. Can we just vote on this thing already? :)

  2. [2] 
    Paula wrote:

    Round 'em up!

  3. [3] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    David -

    Welcome back! We've been missing your presence!

    Also, Michale is busy recovering from the hurricane, so the comments threads have been rather subdued of late...



  4. [4] 
    apophis wrote:

    Why have the two top-ranking Republicans remained silent? Silence is complicity. Pelosi all but called them cowards. Do they fear Trump supporters will turn on them?

  5. [5] 
    apophis wrote:

    Anyone watching the Al Smith dinner on C-SPAN? Clinton and Trump will be speaking..

  6. [6] 
    neilm wrote:

    Yup - watching it - Hillary is killing it. Trump came across as petulant.

  7. [7] 
    neilm wrote:

    "Remember what unites us, the Republican National Committee isn't supporting either of us" - Hillary

  8. [8] 
    apophis wrote:

    Giuliani looked really pissed.

  9. [9] 
    neilm wrote:

    Frankly, I felt both "went low", Trump more than Hillary, and her jokes were better (Trump got boo'ed a few times). Hillary got a couple of silences, and some of her jokes were duds, but Donald missed the point of the speech - it was meant to be self deprecating. Hillary got it.

    I'd give Hillary a 6/10, and Trump a 2/10.

    Trump did have one great joke:

    Michelle gives a speech and everybody loves it, Melania gives the exact same speech and everybody gets on her case."

  10. [10] 
    apophis wrote:

    Clinton gets a standing O and Trump gets booed. Of course he will say the dinner was rigged. LOL

  11. [11] 
    neilm wrote:

    He really pissed the crowd off when he said "Hillary hates Catholics" - bigly boos!

  12. [12] 
    apophis wrote:

    With a Cardinal sitting by Clinton.

  13. [13] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    Here's what The Biggest Loser said back in May:

    "You've been hearing me say it's a rigged system, but now I don't say it anymore because I won. It's true. Now I don't care. I don't care and the only way I won was I won by such big margins because it is a rigged system. But the only way you can do it, it's like a boxer, you got to knock them out then you don't got to worry about the judges."

    Does it count if you get knocked out by a girl?

  14. [14] 
    Balthasar wrote:
  15. [15] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    Speaking of Will, I spent the day listening to one expert guest after another opine on the subject of what happens when one of the candidates accuses an election of being 'rigged'. The experts agreed: the result is usually that the candidate who makes the charge usually ends up depressing the vote of his own followers.

    The more that I've watched the Great Pumpkin in these last few weeks the more that I'm reminded of the quote from Will that practically kicked off this campaign, when people were still accusing Bill Clinton of having encouraged Trump to run in the first place with the aim of disrupting the primaries. Will replied (to Brit Hume, I think):

    "If Donald Trump were a Democratic mole placed in the Republican Party to disrupt things, how would his behavior be any different?"

  16. [16] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:


    I keep imagining a post election meme of that almost final scene of the movie, Trading Places. Billy Ray Valentine is handing a dollar to Louis Winthorpe III but with Trump's head replacing Valentine's and Hillary's head replacing Winthorpe's. Trump's line:

    Oh, see, I made Hillary a bet here. See, Hillary bet me that we couldn't both get her elected and destroy the Republican party at the same time. She didn't think we could do it. I won.

  17. [17] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:

    That would be Louis Winthorpe III handing the dollar to Billy Ray get the idea.

  18. [18] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Didn't you like his 'Pardon me' joke? That was hilarious!

  19. [19] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Trump is the school yard bully that just got whupped at recess by a surprisingly tough girl.

    I don't take Trump's threat all that seriously. The guy is exhausted, shell shocked, demoralized. He BELIEVES he is going to lose the election.

    In the end, Trump will look at his business prospects, which is his brand, which is in big trouble. Stoking a genuine civil war would be very bad for his brand, which will ultimately require some discreet burnishing, with power tools and a lot of solvents. It will never be the brand it was, and never the titan claimed by Trump.

    A Twitter War Between the States seems to me Trump's best way out. He can Twitter his way to something approaching mental health again. The guy is a showman, showman bounce back.

    The Confederacy was an Establishment Insurrection led by politicians of long experience with access to well regulated militia. Trump is an upstart with access to nothing equivalent. He has matches, but damp fuel.

  20. [20] 
    altohone wrote:

    Hey CW

    The Trumpon will lose.
    I doubt his cohort of whiners will turn to violence, but they aren't going anywhere either.

    Unfortunately, I fully expect Hillary to provide her critics on the left and right with ammunition that will show voters that her high unfavorable numbers are justified.
    Nothing can redeem Trump, but anybody expecting an era of progress will be disappointed.

    It may take two years for this to become apparent (midterms), but her actions and those of her fellow neoliberal corporatist warmongers will do more damage to the Democratic party than Trump ever imagined he could.

    Hillary's gung ho support for an illegal war, starting with a no-fly zone in Syria has impending disaster written all over it.

    The Wall Street friendly TPP may pass in the lame duck session, supposedly insulating Hillary from any fallout, but Obama and her biggest allies and supporters in Congress and the corporate establishment will be responsible, and most will see she shares the blame too.

    Senator Schumer came out the other day saying a massive corporate tax cut for the two and a half trillion in corporate profits stashed overseas will be a top priority... something Hillary's secret speeches revealed she too supports.
    The corporate media will spin the issue for our tax evaders and ignore that a huge chunk of those profits were actually earned on sales made in the US that were channeled through overseas offices... thus enabling the loophole abusing tax evaders to keep avoiding paying their fair share.

    The fatal flaws in the corporate subsidy scheme known as Obamacare will become more apparent, and Hillary's "fixes" will do nothing (assuming she even tries to get them passed in Congress).
    The only effective fixes require actions to prevent the price gouging by insurers and drug manufacturers, and Hillary is in bed with them.

    The violations of our Constitution will continue.
    The fossil fuel industry will remain subsidized and coddled.
    The guilty elite criminals will remain unprosecuted.
    And on and on.

    Onwards to "victory".


  21. [21] 
    altohone wrote:

    (from our conversation a few days ago)

    You are an enigma wrapped in a fortune cookie.

    I love fortune cookies.
    Sweet (not necessarily to me all the time, but you obviously care a great deal about humanity) and crunchy (as in determined and intelligent) on the outside, and often a source of wisdom on the inside.

    I occasionally find you puzzling, but you have earned my respect.

    My favorite fortune from a cookie was an aphorism from Confucius-

    "The person who knows everything has a lot to learn".

    Don't for a second think my resolve and strong opinions mean that I think I know everything... because I've learned a lot from you.


  22. [22] 
    Kick wrote:

    [13] JFC,

    Does it count if you get knocked out by a girl?

    Who you calling "girl"? #NastyWoman ;)

  23. [23] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    altohone [22]

    I tip my cap to you. That was beautifully stated.


  24. [24] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    So it is possible for the least-liked candidate in history to actually be elected with the greatest number of Electoral College votes in history, is that it? Talk about a CRAZY election!

  25. [25] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    neilm [9]

    I think that Trump had so altered the mood for all in attendance that It was probably the reason Hillary didn't get at least "courtesy laughs" on some of her jokes. He'd turned a really nice event into something ugly.

  26. [26] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    So nice to see you back here, David!

    I still think Trump wants to go down swinging.

    The last thing he wants to have to do is lead the free world, despite his ironic choice of music to open up his presidential campaign.

  27. [27] 
    akadjian wrote:

    "Banana Republican" ... heheh. Might have to steal that.

    Thanks for the note about Michale. Hope he's OK. Might email him to see how he's doing.

    You thinking about doing a fall fundraiser? Maybe after the election.


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