As a matter of craftsmanship, it was a poor effort. The organization was impossible to follow and it was very repetitious. It had almost no poetry in it. And it was too long. The delivery was relentlessly shouty.
On the substance, Trump stuck to his signature themes on law-and-order, immigration, and trade to the point of monomania. I’m a law-and-order guy and an immigration restrictionist and can’t believe that most Americans are going to consider those issues as central as Trump made them tonight. Besides inveighing against trade deals, he treated the economy as an after-thought–almost always the most important issue to voters and an issue where Trump has been leading Clinton in many polls.
That said, a few of his populist lines–”I am your voice”–had resonance and occasionally some of his riffs achieved lift-off. He hit the rigged economy and political system hard, and it’s a theme that has crossover appeal.
It may be that this speech was so unusual–relentlessly negative and high decibel–that it will punch through more the analysts realize.
But it’s hard to believe it’s going to widen his appeal. It will reinforce his reputation for strength (and perhaps for truth-telling if his negativity is taken as unvarnished honesty), but probably not help on other qualities. He didn’t even seem interested in trying to show voters that he has more range than he is shown over the last year. This was a Trump rally dressed up with fancy trappings and a ballon drop afterwards. Surely, Trump’s attitude is that this approach got him this far so why change? And that is the gamble of his entire campaign.