The New Yorker cover pretty much captures what has happened since “The Donald” entered the GOP race a month ago — he has cleared out the pool. Cover Story: Barry Blitt’s “Belly Flop”.
The GOP establishment media insists that “The Donald” does not represent the views of most Republicans, and that he is the flavor of the month who will fade quickly. The poll numbers are telling a different story.
Steve Benen looks at the polls released this week in New polling tells the GOP what it doesn’t want to hear:
It seems inevitable that Donald Trump’s standing in national polls will fade, but for now, that shift remains on the horizon. Politico reported overnight on the new Fox News poll:
Donald Trump leads all Republican presidential candidates for the GOP primary, according to a new Fox national poll of registered voters released Thursday.
Eighteen percent of GOP voters said they supported Trump, up 7 percent from last month and 15 percent from March.
Trailing Trump’s 18% support is Scott Walker, who’s in second with 15%, and Jeb Bush with 14%. No other candidate reached double digits in the Fox poll.
The results are roughly consistent with this week’s USA Today/Suffolk poll, which also found Trump leading, and which also showed Trump generating about the same amount of support as Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul combined.
[Last week, Trump led the GOP field in the Economist/YouGov poll.]
And in this specific poll, that’s not all. Consider this question Fox asked respondents:
“Recently, presidential candidate Donald Trump called for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. He said Mexico is quote, ‘sending people that have lots of problems…. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.’ Setting aside how Trump worded his comments, do you think he’s basically right on this, or not?”
A total of 70% of Republican voters said they believe Trump’s racially charged rhetoric is correct. That’s not a typo – seven in 10.
There are some ugly attitudes that have pushed Trump to the top of the crowded GOP field, and Republican officials have to come to terms with that.
Greg Sargent takes a nuanced view of this poll number in the Morning Plum: A lot of Republican voters agree with Donald Trump. What does that mean?
Does the Donald Trump boomlet reflect widespread agreement among Republican voters with his views on immigration in their rawest, ugliest form? Or does it reflect something else that no one has been able to put a finger on yet?
At first glance, a new Fox News poll would seem to suggest the former:
Recently, presidential candidate Donald Trump called for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. He said Mexico is quote, “sending people that have lots of problems…they’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” Setting aside how Trump worded his comments, do you think he’s basically right on this or not?
Seventy percent of Republicans said Yes, versus only 27 percent who said No. Americans overall said Trump is wrong by 53-44; independents said the same by 61-36.
As I’ve argued, the GOP’s problem with Latino voters goes a lot deeper than Trump’s rhetoric. That problem is rooted in the fundamental underlying difference between the two parties’ views on immigration. Most Democrats believe the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country have something positive to contribute, while most Republican lawmakers either don’t believe that or cannot accept legalization under any circumstances, because it would reward lawbreaking.
The new Fox finding perhaps comports generally with that. But this shouldn’t be taken too far. Other numbers from the Fox poll cast doubt on the idea that GOP voters are in the grip of unrelenting xenophobia. Large chunks of Republican voters agree that legal immigrants bring some positives to the country, such as new ideas and entrepreneurial spirit. This is in line with the view expressed by some GOP pollsters that Republican primary voters can be won over on immigration: their initial instinct is to lash out at the idea of legalization but they change their views when they are led through the moral and practical complexities of the problem. I like to think this is true. Indeed, I believe the instinct of many conservatives against rewarding lawbreaking should be engaged seriously, even if I disagree with it.
Still, how to explain the Trump boomlet? One GOP operative suggests an explanation for what’s motivating Trump’s supporters. “They seem to be galvanized by a notion that Washington is hopelessly corrupt – and you need somebody who is completely outside of the process to go in there and shake things up,” this operative says. “For a lot of these folks, I think immigration speaks more broadly to a federal government that’s not doing its job as effectively as they think it should be or could be.”
Perhaps. Alternatively, it could just be name-recognition, or something else still. As it happens, there is one way this question might be settled. Many Republicans expect an epic showdown between Trump and Jeb Bush on immigration, perhaps at the coming GOP debate. It’s possible that Jeb, who has challenged Republicans to accept that the 11 million are more than mere criminals, may try to call out Trump’s views for what they are before a high profile audience. If so, the reaction from GOP voters across the country will tell us a lot.
Sargent is giving J.E.B(!) Bush too much credit. Given that 70% approval number with “The Donald’s” xenophobic racist comments, J.E.B(!) will do what Willard “Mittens” Romney did in 2012 — try to outflank his opponents by moving to the right. Ed Kilgore at the Political Animal blog makes the case. Betcha Jeb Goes After Trump From the Right:
Remember 2012, when Mitt Romney was the object of a primary-within-the-primary to see who would emerge as the “true conservative” alternative to the Mittster? Did he go after them as the “mature” candidate of the center? Hell’s no!
One might expect a “dog pile on Donald” at the FAUX News GOP presidential primary debate on August 6, but we may get a “Me too! And even more!” type of debate.