Matt Schlapp: 5 post-debate reasons Trump is still in it
© Greg Nash

With 17 days left in the presidential campaign, this week gave Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpNFL players stand in tunnel during anthem, extending protests 12 former top intel officials blast Trump's move to revoke Brennan's security clearance NYT: Omarosa believed to have as many as 200 tapes MORE his final set event to try and change the dynamics during the fourth and final debate in Las Vegas. It was Trump vs. The House and he walked away with the most chips.

Trump started strong with his first answer and dominated the debate by having ready answers, by keeping calm and by staying in the vicinity of his key messages to voters.

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Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonPapadopoulos's wife wants him to scrap plea deal with Mueller: report FBI chief: I'm trying to bring 'normalcy' in 'turbulent times' Senate Intel chief slams ex-CIA director for timing of claims about Trump-Russia ties MORE attempted every conceivable way to bait Trump into talking about his fortune, his sex life, or his past business ventures, but he continually countered with her corruption, her experience in Washington and her failed foreign policy leadership.

Debates for Trump supporters are uncomfortable events, but in this final debate he demonstrated what many voters wanted to see in the first debate: a responsible alternative to Clinton who can be serious and is prepared to take his business experience and shake up a broken Washington DC.

Is it too late to turn the race in Trump’s favor? Some experts believe that the race is over, as Trump spent too many weeks off-roading and attacking his myriad enemies, taking up valuable time that could have been spent prosecuting the political case against Hillary Clinton.

They argue that the race was shaped in the early summer and mostly lost by Labor Day with serious damage done by the Democratic Convention and its brutal aftermath.

Other experts believe the race was always destined to be close especially considering the polls that track the wayward and enduring wrong track numbers and Clinton’s astronomical negatives, which must be particularly dispiriting for a former First Lady, senator and cabinet secretary.

Trump’s unconventional attacks resonate with many voters, especially those who believe Washington has lost touch with regular Americans, and that Washington can only be changed by a straight-talking, aggressive street fighter, who has nothing to lose.

The best indicators that Trump is still in the race are the following:

  1. Poll with street cred: The Investor’s Business Daily Poll, which was the most accurate 4 years ago, shows Trump leading Clinton on the four way ballot by 1 point.

  2. Noise Noise Noise: The Clinton attack machine has created so much clutter in the race that most polling has skewed in Clinton’s direction in a way that does not properly capture the dynamics of the race.

  3. The Box Office: Trump continues to draw large crowds and dominates the coverage, even when the coverage is negative. His core supporters are energized and will work every moment to elect him.

  4. "Herstory": No matter how effectively the Clinton campaign executes, in the end they are selling a candidate who is distrusted and disliked by most voters, and whose signature public issues are also unpopular from Obamacare to the rise of ISIS.

  5. The X Factor: It is intriguing to predict if the Trump coalition may include voters who either tend not to vote, or tend to vote for Democrats. This crossover and jump start appeal has to register at a high level to change the political histories of states like PA, WI, and/or MI.

And what are the best arguments for a strong Clinton victory, to save time and repetition I advise you just flip on your flat screen and watch the moral case against Trump which runs 24/7 on almost every news station with long interludes of sugary Clinton coverage.

Will the Las Vegas debate mark the moment when policy and philosophy finally dominate the conversation and the coverage of this unique campaign? If Vegas helps accomplish this needed refocusing, then we will never forget what happened in Vegas.

Schlapp is chairman of the American Conservative Union and CPAC. He was the White House political director to President George W. Bush.
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