The campaign takes its toll

A few people have asked me what is wrong with Trump lately, given his recent media missteps and his bigger-than-expected loss in Wisconsin. I think the answer is very simple. He’s tired. This nomination campaign is a marathon, not a sprint, and it is an exhausting process. In every human endeavor, we see the pattern of ebb and flow, the fractal Elliott Wave pattern of 1-3-5 with the 2-4, the back-and-forth swing of the momentum pendulum.

Trump has had two big surges, one that began in New Hampshire and carried through Super Tuesday, the other that carried him through big victories in Florida and Arizona. The question is if he can summon up the energy required for the final push to victory.

The last two weeks have been what happens when a candidate who depends upon his high energy to carry his campaign through finds himself flagging. And, as usual, all the short-term linear thinkers who look only at the present assume that it’s all over and his trajectory is downward.

I suspect that being back home in New York will energize Trump and he’ll roar back into aggressive action after he is remotivated by a landslide win over Cruz there. Whether that will be enough to carry him through California, I don’t know, but remember, what he absolutely needs to win before the convention are: a big win in proportional New York, solid wins in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, a minor state win, and then a clinching victory in California.

That’s not certain, but it is far from being impossible, or even unlikely. April 26th looks to be an interesting day, as Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Delaware will vote and the finalists for the Hugo Awards will also be announced.

UPDATE: Nate adds an important observation:

I think this is a fair assessment. but you’re also ignoring Trump’s weak spot, which is also one of his strengths. Trump doesn’t handling failure well. Oh, he’s fine losing one or two while winning 10. But he’s had a bad couple weeks and it is clearly showing. You can see it in his temperament. Looking back at the debates where Cruz and Rubio were ganging up on him he was clearly off-his game in the post debate interviews.

When he’s winning he appears to have a better grasp on what attacks to address and what attacks to ignore. When he isn’t winning he appears to lose that ability and lash out at everything and everyone that says anything negative about him.

This is an excellent point, and it is one reason why I’ve been saying New York is so important even though it’s not winner-takes-all. Trump is a high-energy front-runner who feeds on momentum. He’s a steamroller, he’s not a counterpuncher who is energized by finding himself on the ropes, a die-hard who will fight until the bitter end, or a comeback kid who needs to be knocked down once or twice before he even starts to get serious.