Through the spring and summer, many pundits and politicians dismissed Donald Trump’s campaign for president as a flash in the pan. Large crowds at his events were explained away by dissatisfaction with the establishment.

Now that his lead in the polls has held for so long, people are singing a different tune.

Howard Kurtz of FOX News:

The media establishment finally admits Trump could win this thing

I remember shaking my head, on the day that Donald Trump announced, when NPR’s Mara Liasson declared that this would be the best day of his campaign and it was downhill from there.

Liasson cheerfully admitted she was wrong on my show, but she had plenty of company. Most of the media establishment seemed to fall into two camps: those who were skeptical that Trump was anything more than a sideshow, and those who attacked him as a clown and a charlatan.

Fast-forward to this past weekend when Chris Wallace, having just interviewed Trump for “Fox News Sunday,” said: “I know all of us dismissed Trump, early on, all of the so-called experts.” But after their sitdown, Wallace said, “I am beginning to believe he could be elected president of the United States.”

The so-called experts are starting to face reality. Joe Scarborough said yesterday that anyone who believes Trump can be stopped if he wins Iowa is “dreaming.”

Here’s the moment with Chris Wallace which Kurtz refers to above:

It’s not just media types who are starting to think this way. The Republican Party is coming to terms with the possibility as well.

Byron York of the Washington Examiner:

Panicked establishment gets ready for war against Trump

This weekend was an inflection point in the Republican presidential race — a moment in which some significant part of the GOP establishment came out of denial and realized Donald Trump might well become their party’s nominee.

“The Republican establishment, for the first time, is saying, off the record, this guy can win,” noted Joe Scarborough on MSNBC Monday morning. “I’ve heard that from everybody. I don’t hear anybody saying he can’t win the nomination anymore.”

That doesn’t mean Republicans have made their peace with a Trump victory. On the contrary — some are preparing to do whatever it takes to bring him down. Which could lead to an extraordinary scenario in which GOP stalwarts go to war to destroy their own party’s likely nominee.

Trump is still turning out huge crowds, too. Here’s a video from a campaign event in Anderson, South Carolina on Monday. Just look at the sea of iPhones at the beginning, all straining to catch a glimpse of the Donald.

He certainly has enthusiasm on his side.

Featured image via YouTube.