The following is my contribution to Politico Magazine’s post-debate pundit roundup, answering the questions “is it all over?” and “what we will remember years from now?”
This cake is baked. Any hope that Donald Trump could deliver a game-changing last-ditch final debate performance was dashed when he refused to accept the Election Day results. Everyone except for the most delusional Trump supporter knows that Hillary Clinton will be the next president. The only unknowns are whether:
1. Hillary Clinton can break 50 percent of the popular vote in the four-way race, giving Democrats three consecutive presidential popular vote majorities for the first time since 1940.
2. Gary Johnson can break 5 percent (which would earn the Libertarian Party federal campaign funds for 2020).
3. Evan McMullin can win Utah’s 6 electoral votes.
4. Democrats can claim the Senate or even the House.
People will look back and point to various Trump transgressions and insults during the general election to explain his coming loss: the “Access Hollywood” hot mic, the tax returns, the Khans, the amateurish debate performances. But the truth is Trump lost this race the day he entered it, when he smeared Latino immigrants as rapists and criminals. He has never led in poll averages against Clinton, save for a brief convention bounce, because he never stopped being a candidate of white right-wing rage in a multicultural center-left nation.