Donald Trump Continues To Lead GOP Field In Post-Debate Polling

One week after the second Republican debate, Donald Trump is still at the top of the GOP field, and that doesn't seem likely to change any time soon.

Republican Debate September 16 Two

In the wake of last week’s Republican Presidential debate, the conventional wisdom was that Donald Trump had “lost” the debate with a repeat of the performance he had given at the August 6th debate, while candidates such as  Carly Fiorina and Marco Rubio had allegedly improved their position. Almost immediately after the debate ended, and for days afterward, pundits predicted that we had seen the peak of Donald Trump and that this would be the beginning of the end of the phenomenon that began when he entered the race in mid-June. Of course, as I noted at the time, many pundits had been predicting that one event or another would be the beginning of the end of Donald Trump throughout the summer only to be proven wrong, so there was no reason to believe that this last debate would be any different. In the initial polling that came out in the wake of the debate, Trump had dipped slightly while Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina had risen a bit in the wake of what some had concluded were solid debate performances. This morning, we have three new polls that seem to confirm what we saw at the end of last week and show that, while Trump has declined in the polls somewhat he remains firmly entrenched as the Republican frontrunner just as he has been for the past three months.

First up, the new Quinnipiac poll shows Trump slipping somewhat from where he had been previously, but still at the top of the race:

Donald Trump’s momentum appears to have stalled, according to the latest national Quinnipiac University survey released Thursday.

Trump still leads the pack among registered Republican voters with 25 percent, statistically unchanged from last month’s Quinnipiac survey that put him at 28 percent. It’s the second major national poll this week showing a slight decrease from last month, as Trump experienced an 8-point drop in the CNN/ORC survey released Sunday.

In the latest Quinnipiac poll, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson came in second with 17 percent, an increase of 5 points from last month, followed by businesswoman Carly Fiorina at 12 percent, up 7 points, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at 10 percent, up 3 points, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio at 9 percent, up 2 points, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz at 7 percent, who remained steady. Other candidates polled at 2 percent or less, with 9 percent undecided.

Fiorina won last week’s second primary debate, a plurality of voters said, at 28 percent to 11 percent for Trump, the next-closest candidate. But a plurality of 20 percent also said that Trump lost the debate.

Next up, the new Fox News poll shows Trump maintaining his lead in the race despite the fact that he is also perceived as having had the worst performance in last night’s debate:

Donald Trump is holding onto his sizeable lead among Republican primary voters, a Fox News poll showed Wednesday, despite being perceived as delivering the worst performance in last week’s debate.

The poll has the billionaire businessman nabbing 26 percent support, with retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson gaining on him with 18 percent, and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina also edging up with 9 percent.

The trio of political outsiders all improved their standing from the prior Fox News poll conducted after the Aug. 6 debate, in which Trump came in with 25 percent, Carson with 12, and Fiorina with 5 percent.

The strong numbers show the extent to which anti-Washington sentiment has boosted those who have never before held political office, while experienced hands such as Jeb Bush have sunk to single-digit support. Trump maintained his post at the top despite respondents saying he offered up the worst performance at last week’s CNN Republican presidential debate. Fiorina, meanwhile, landed the best impression.

Along similar lines, a new Bloomberg Poll finds what seems to be strong sympathy for many of Trump’s themes while he continues to lead the GOP race:

Americans are “fed up” with politics, suspect the wealthy are getting an unfair edge, and think the country is going in the wrong direction, according to a new Bloomberg Politics poll that lays bare the depth and breadth of the discontents propelling outsider candidates in the Republican presidential field.

The survey shows that 72 percent of Americans think their country isn’t as great as it once was—a central theme of front-runner Donald Trump’s campaign. More than a third prefer a presidential candidate without experience in public office.

Three of the four candidates leading the Republican field fit that description: Trump, the first choice of 21 percent of registered Republicans and voters who say they lean that way, followed by neurosurgeon Ben Carson with 16 percent, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush with 13 percent, and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina with 11 percent.

Fiorina and Carson have seen the strongest gains among Republicans since the survey was taken a month ago. In the interim, voters have had their first extended looks at the candidates in two nationally televised debates. Fiorina’s numbers, at 1 percent in the August poll, leaped by 10 percentage points while Carson jumped 11 percentage points, up from 5 percent. Trump’s numbers have remained unchanged. Together, the three candidates who have never held political office account for 48 percent of the Republican vote.

Looking at the national field, the RealClearPolitics average shows Trump at 24%, with Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina as the only other candidates in double digits. Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio come next at slightly over 9% each followed by Senator Ted Cruz at 6.5%, but after them the numbers begin to drop off precipitously. Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee both come in at 3.5%, followed by John Kasich at 3.0% and Rand Paul at 2.3%. After Paul, no other candidate remaining in the race is averaging about 1% of the vote, and most of them are barely registering at all. In other words, the Republican race doesn’t look all that much different than it did prior to the debate, exactly for the fact that Donald Trump does seem to have declined in the polls somewhat, as this chart shows:

RCP Chart 924

As the chart shows, there has been somewhat of a decline in Trump’s numbers since the debate. Right before the debate, Trump was averaging 30.5% in the polls and since then he’s seem his numbers fall six points to 24%. At the same time, though, we’ve also seen that his closest competitor in the polls, Ben Carson, has also seen his numbers decline while there really hasn’t been any sign that Carly Fiorina or anyone else received enough momentum from the debate to turn them into any kind of contender. Given that, the fact that Trump has dropped from a high that was likely artificial to begin with doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re seeing the often predicted beginning of the end of the Trump campaign that so many pundits, including myself, have forecast more than once. Instead, what we’re likely to see that Trump will maintain his lead over the other candidates, especially when his main competitors are two people who clearly aren’t any more fit for the Presidency than he is and are thus unable to position themselves as credible alternatives to a candidate who continues to say many things that the Republican base continues to agree with. If Trump is going to be challenged effectively, it will be by one of the establishment candidates who can appeal to conservative voters while at the same time positioning themselves as the measured and credible alternative to a man who is basically the living embodiment of an Internet comment thread. The problem for the Republican Party, though, is that so far none of those candidates have been able to break through the cacophony surrounding Donald Trump. Until they are, there’s no reason to think that this is going to end.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Mu says:

    Trump’s main argument on why he deserves the nomination seems to be “because I lead in the polls”. Does this mean the second he’s no longer in the lead he will cease the campaign?

  2. Peacewood says:

    The real eye-opener in these polls, I think, is the rise of Marco Rubio and the continuing weakness of Jeb.

    Jeb is probably still the frontrunner (if Nate Silver is to be believed, at any rate), but egads! I cannot remember, in my lifetime, seeing a frontrunner of either party as weak as Bush. Seriously, fourth place? Is there any eventual presidential nominee in living memory who sank as low as that?

  3. CrustyDem says:

    @Mu:

    Correct. Trump’s betting on the GOP voters just going with whomever is the strongest candidate. The moment anyone passes him in the polls, he has no reason to run.. It’s a strategy that depends less on him and more on everyone else being a “loser”. So far it’s been damn near flawless.

  4. Gustopher says:

    @Peacewood: I’m not sure he’s weaker than Romney. But right now, I have a vague feeling that when it all settles down, Rubio will be the nominee.

    Romney, for all his weakness, ran in a field where no one else was plausible.

  5. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Peacewood:

    The highest Jeb! has ranked in 17% of polled support.

    By comparison, the lowest Romney ever sank was 16.1% of polled support.

    And that was back when Pawlenty, et al, were still in the race, so I think the ‘crowded stage” factor is minimal.

  6. PJ says:

    @Peacewood:

    I cannot remember, in my lifetime, seeing a frontrunner of either party as weak as Bush. Seriously, fourth place? Is there any eventual presidential nominee in living memory who sank as low as that?

    John McCain. He was fourth in a number of polls in 2007, even in fifth place in some polls in December 2007.

  7. Tillman says:

    If Trump is going to be challenged effectively, it will be by one of the establishment candidates who can appeal to conservative voters while at the same time positioning themselves as the measured and credible alternative to a man who is basically the living embodiment of an Internet comment thread.

    We thrive on your contempt, Mr. Mataconis. 🙂

    Jeb maintains an institutional advantage, but I’m doubtful he can pull through. Not that I believe Donald frickin’ Trump when he says Jeb is tired, but Jeb is surely less competent than the expectations set for him. It’s not like we’ve never had crazy populists in American history.

    @Peacewood: Didn’t McCain sink rather low in the 2008 primary? @PJ: Next time, Gadget…

  8. DrDaveT says:

    I once did some analytics for the VA, and one of the things they were interested in was migration patterns. The problem was, they didn’t have any data on migration — only snapshots of population at various times.

    These poll data have the same problem. We know what % have favored each candidate at various times, but we have no data on the mechanism of the change. If you want to forecast how those numbers will continue to shift, you need to know what the transitions are. Are Trump fans switching to Carson? To Fiorina? To ¡Jeb! ? It matters, because there’s a finite pool of people willing to switch to Trump or Carson or Cruz or Rand Paul under any circumstances.

    (On the other hand, I can’t imagine anyone capable of tying shoes supporting Carson under any circumstances, so what do I know?)

  9. PJ says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    The highest Jeb! has ranked in 17% of polled support.

    By comparison, the lowest Romney ever sank was 16.1% of polled support.

    And that was back when Pawlenty, et al, were still in the race, so I think the ‘crowded stage” factor is minimal.

    Bush got 23% in a poll back in April, but looking at other polls in April it does look like an outlier.

    In 2007, McCain didn’t really move into the leader position until mid-December.

  10. J-Dub says:

    It’s clear from these polls that Trump has picked up both of Scott Walker’s previous supporters.

  11. J-Dub says:

    @DrDaveT:I can’t imagine anyone capable of tying shoes supporting Carson under any circumstances.

    Don’t underestimate the number of midwesterners wearing Crocs!

  12. C. Clavin says:

    I suspect that eventually the GOP party establishment will do something to disqualify Trump in some way. The Koch’s have spent 30 years taking control of the party and they aren’t about to let the only guy in this years field that hasn’t kissed their rings to win the nomination.
    But Trump is a feature of today’s Republican Party, not a bug. Like Sarah Palin before him, he is the candidate of the base. And he is saying what they want to hear. Only he isn’t couching it it in code words and innuendo like the other candidates. Trump is the Republican Party.…the Republican Party that party establishment likes to keep hidden in the basement.

  13. Tony W says:

    I can’t imagine the horror of Trump representing my party’s best hope.

  14. Andre Kenji says:

    McCain went ahead of the polls when he went to a debate in Fox News and then pointed out to his experience as a prisoner in Vietnam when attacking Hillary Clinton for earmarking funds for a Woodstock Museum.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6FQQhbpNig

    But in some sense he won by elimination: most of the other candidates were deep flawed(There was the spending and tax issue with Huckabee, Giuliani was Giuliani, and so on) and he managed to survive the process.

    I think that the same applies to Mitt Romney. But if I would bet money on someone winning by elimination I would bet my money on Kasich or even Rubio, not JEB!.

  15. gVOR08 says:

    @DrDaveT:
    (On the other hand, I can’t imagine anyone capable of tying shoes supporting Carson under any circumstances, so what do I know?)
    Velcro!

    And I’ll steal that line.

  16. michael reynolds says:

    I think we’ve passed Peak Trump.

    His problem is that he has no second act, no middle. He had the hook-y opening act, the attention-grabber. But even morons (Trump supporters) need a middle act where the exposition takes place. And we’ve got zero exposition – no policy, no plans – Trump just keeps singing the opening number over and over again.

    Despite being an entertainer he’s more of an actor than a writer. He has no sense of narrative. So, ironically, he’s an entertainer who doesn’t really know how entertainment works and is now going to pay a price for that.

    My guess is Trump can’t handle being in second place, let alone third. He’s not built for distance, he’s weak. I’ll bet a dollar he’s already looking to pull a Perot.

  17. grumpy realist says:

    Ok,, now we know he’s just trolling us.

    This is the level of “my concentration camps will be FABULOUS because I’ll have top designers work on them!”

  18. the Q says:

    Fiorina/Rubio would obviously appeal to certain constituencies dear to the GOP – failed CEOs and exotic male dancers.

  19. James Joyner says:

    @Peacewood: As @PJ reminds us, McCain was left for dead in 2008 before his eventual rally. Ditto John Kerry in 2004; he had to mortgage one of his wife’s houses to stay in the race.

    Of course, those guys went on to lose in November.

  20. arthropod says:

    @Peacewood –

    A few weeks before the 2004 primaries started, some polls had John Kerry tied for fourth with Joe Lieberman, after Dean, Edwards, and Clark.

  21. Pam says:

    @Tillman: None of them can compete with Trump, because it’s all about Illegal & mass Legal immigration. We want it all stopped, and every American job in the U.S. must go to U.S. citizens, the only ones who can vote.

  22. grumpy realist says:

    @Pam: Well, I guess you’re perfectly happy in letting US science and engineering go down the drain, then. Where do you think a lot of our scientists and engineers come from?

    But hey, run on that platform. The Chinese will love you.

  23. DrDaveT says:

    @J-Dub:

    Don’t underestimate the number of midwesterners wearing Crocs!

    I’m from the midwest originally, but I hadn’t realized just how much of a culture gap there is these days until I discovered that my teenage nephews did not own any long pants. None. This, despite the fact that they were living in the Chicago suburbs, where winter temperatures range from cold to @#%$!

  24. grumpy realist says:

    Oh lord here we go again.

    I think it’s time for someone to have a binkie and a nap.

  25. Ron Beasley says:

    Trump was always an entertainer not a candidate. His act is getting stale and I don’t think he has another one.

  26. C. Clavin says:

    @michael reynolds:
    @Ron Beasley:
    But look at his audience. They don’t even understand what it is you are saying. Beginning middle and what? Second what?
    They agree with him that all Mexicans are rapists, that vaccines cause autism, Obama is a Muslim, that he is going to march into the Middle East and just take everyone’s oil for the US, that he is going to deport 12 million immigrants immediately, and that he is going to build a 2000 mile long wall – with a really nice door, as he told Colbert.
    The Republican party is a collection of morons. And Donald Trump is the carnival barker they have been looking for ever since Reagan left.

  27. C. Clavin says:

    @Pam:

    We want it all stopped

    So then, you are a native American? Which tribe do you belong to?

  28. DrDaveT says:

    @Pam:

    because it’s all about Illegal & mass Legal immigration

    Well, that pretty much pulls the fig leaf off the “rule of law” objections, now doesn’t it?

    What, exactly, bothers you about “mass Legal immigration”? Keep in mind, legal immigrants are more productive, more law-abiding, and more socially-involved, on average, than born-in-the-USA citizens. And their kids will be Americans just like us. So what’s the problem?

  29. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @DrDaveT: There are incredible numbers of people in my little corner of the US who wear slip-ons or shoes with those “croakies(?)” or other elastic laces. Just sayin’.

  30. al-Ameda says:

    I still believe that at the end it will be Rubio, Bush and probably Kasich, with Fiorina angling for Veep.

    Rubio (at the top or Veep) might very well be the GOPs way of thinking that hispanic and latino voters will forget how much the GOP can’t stand them if Rubio is on the ticket.

  31. J-Dub says:

    @Pam: You should talk to your fellow ‘Muricans, because they don’t want to do the work:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonkblog/wp/2013/05/15/north-carolina-needed-6500-farm-workers-only-7-americans-stuck-it-out/

  32. grumpy realist says:

    @J-Dub: I think in this case, it’s more “they don’t want to do the work at the salaries offered.”

    The whining of US companies unable to obtain labor at rotten salaries has always amused me. Raise the salaries, you idiots. And if your margin is so small that you can’t afford the requisite salaries, then you don’t have a business plan that works.

  33. Tillman says:

    @Pam:

    None of them can compete with Trump

    Except for the guy with the rhetorical skills of a yawning slug trailing him within striking distance.

  34. Just Me says:

    I think the fact that Trump may have hit his peak is important. Right now he leads but as other candidates fall away I’m pretty sure they will break for other candidates than Trump.

    I actually agree with those who think Rubio may come out the winner as other candidates falter (I think Truml continues to stick around in or near the top because of the voters he appeals to). While Fiorina appeals to me I still think she ends up either a VP choice or maybe ends up in the cabinet.

    If Trump bows out early because his candidacy runs out of steam it will be interesting to see where his supporters end up.

    But right now Rubio seems to be sitting in a good place-high enough that donors send money his way but he isn’t so high the media and DNC targets are on his back. He can let those top candidates take the heat while he stays close enough to close the race.

  35. Rafer Janders says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Raise the salaries, you idiots.

    I’m sorry, but no. Plainly you have no idea how business works. Money is only an incentive for finance industry executives, CEO’s , and other makers. It can’t be offered to lowly workers, otherwise they’d have something that didn’t belong to them.

  36. J-Dub says:

    @Just Me:

    If Trump bows out early because his candidacy runs out of steam it will be interesting to see where his supporters end up.

    Walmart.

  37. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Rafer Janders: You mean like food, clothing for their kids, places to live?

  38. grumpy realist says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: Yes, obviously totally unnecessary stuff.

    Now yachts for the CEO, THAT’S necessary.

  39. michael reynolds says:

    @C. Clavin:

    But look at his audience. They don’t even understand what it is you are saying. Beginning middle and what? Second what?

    People respond to all sorts of paradigms they can neither name nor explain.

  40. Andre Kenji says:

    @grumpy realist:

    I think in this case, it’s more “they don’t want to do the work at the salaries offered.”

    ~

    Nope. Farm work is a pretty miserable job, that´s why most people(Not only Americans) don´t do these jobs, regardless of wages. By the way, you can´t have competitive agriculture if you are paying people 40 dollars per hour to pick strawberries or tomatos.

  41. Tyrell says:

    The structure itself may be sound and viable. It is some of the parts and links that may need to be reapproved. In any case, things seem to favor two or three candidates at the most, but instability and an unpredictable process throws it off. It just seems unattainable, and a far off resolution in this case. Under the top level is where the real power and opportunity is . They need to look at some of the factions and preparations from years past. Getting it to hold up and still be attainable is the best strategy, but will take time and outside the box thinking. Pragmatism is a possible choice, but won’t guarantee the result.

  42. ernieyeball says:

    @Pam:..None of them can compete with Trump,..

    Well that goon Huckabee is giving Typhoid Trump a challenge in the race to the bottom of the sewer.

    I mean we could be inviting some of the most violent and vicious people on Earth to come right in here and live among our families, and I think it’s insane.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/mike-huckabee-refugees_560474e1e4b08820d91c533a?ncid=txtlnkusaolp00000592

  43. ernieyeball says:

    @Pam:..and every American job in the U.S. must go to U.S. citizens, the only ones who can vote.

    So no jobs for American Citizens under the age of 18.
    I would think that teenagers developing a work ethic might be a good idea.
    You just don’t think these things through do you Pam.

  44. anjin-san says:

    @Just Me:

    While Fiorina appeals to me

    I’m curious, what’t the appeal? Bald faced lies during the debate? Her dismal record as a CEO?

  45. J-Dub says:

    @grumpy realist:

    And if your margin is so small that you can’t afford the requisite salaries, then you don’t have a business plan that works.

    Agriculture is a labor intensive endeavor and you can only charge so much for a cucumber before people stop buying them. So, yeah, I would pick cucumbers for $100/hour but I would be out of a job pretty quickly. The agricultural segment has been around a while. I’m pretty sure its near its natural equilibrium in terms of what people are willing to pay and the labor costs associated with that price.

  46. C. Clavin says:

    @michael reynolds:
    But they aren’t people. They are Republicans…morons.
    And they have watched two Bush’s disappoint them in the White House and McCain and Romney lose to a black man and they aren’t going to compromise again…this time they’ll nominate their own candidate.
    Mr. Donald Trump…..

  47. C. Clavin says:

    BREAKING…
    Boehner will resign his House seat at the end of October.
    No reason given….
    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/26/us/boehner-will-resign-from-congress.html?smid=tw-bna&_r=1

  48. Lenoxus says:

    @anjin-san: What dismal record? Under her leadership, HP was one of the most popular printer brands in Iran (despite the sanctions she’s been so insistent must remain), thanks to sales to a tiny third-party company in Dubai.

    If you’ve used their products, you realize this was one of the most brilliant regime-destabilizing projects in history. I can’t wait to see who she’d appoint to the CIA.

  49. C. Clavin says:

    @C. Clavin:
    And if Trump falls off and Rubio is nominated…well, Rubio is just as bat-shit crazy.
    Rubio actually thinks women get pregnant just to have an abortion so Planned Parenthood can sell the fetal tissue and make money.

    “I just think you’ve created an industry now — a situation where very much, you’ve created an incentive for people not just to look forward to having more abortions, but being able to sell that fetal tissue — these centers — for purposes of making a profit off it.”

    He wants to add $4T to the debt in order to give tax cuts to the rich.
    Fiorina is a pathological liar…which the base seems to love but won’t play well in the General Election.
    Bush has been emasculated by the process to date…first he says his brother kept us safe, and now he’s saying he won’t give away free stuff to those “others”.
    Pathetic…a pathetic lot in what was supposed to be an outstanding field. This is the best Republicans can muster????

  50. J-Dub says:

    @C. Clavin:

    This is the best Republicans can muster????

    Unfortunately the answer to that is “yes”.

  51. JohnMcC says:

    @Tyrell: I agree with everything said here but where will we get a fortune cookie big enough to pack it in?

  52. grumpy realist says:

    A comment from a Salon article I found analyzing the latest Trump-Fox News feud:

    Not that Donald Trump necessarily needs anything specific to get mad about—the man could start a feud with a stuffed animal if he wanted to—but you can usually trace his rage to some vaguely identifiable source.

  53. C. Clavin says:

    i just happened upon this…according to Politifact Trump has not said a single thing that is completely true.
    AWESOME SAUCE!!!!
    http://www.politifact.com/personalities/donald-trump/

  54. Kylopod says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Fiorina is a pathological liar…which the base seems to love but won’t play well in the General Election.

    I can’t agree with you on that point. The survival of the GOP in its current form absolutely depends on pathological lying; they’d never get elected to anything if they told the truth about what they stood for and what they believed in.

    Frankly, most politicians lie; it’s practically part of the job. Republicans just have a far greater incentive to lie, because their policy platform is tremendously unpopular and would be rejected by most voters if the candidates explained honestly what those policies are. So they end up claiming they’re going to save Medicare when they really are out to destroy it; they claim their tax cuts will help the middle class when they know they’re aimed squarely at the rich. As Jonathan Chait put it:

    There is also a natural–and, in many ways, commendable–skepticism about one-sided accusations of dishonesty. Those who confine their accusations to one side are usually partisans best taken with a grain of salt. Lying and spinning have always been a part of politics, and it is the rare elected official who prevails by offering the voters an objective and unvarnished assessment of his plans. Moreover, since we tend to think of lying as an idiosyncratic personal trait, there’s no reason to think that one side has more liars than the other any more than there’s reason to think one side has more drunks or adulterers.

    Yet, as will become clear, the fact remains that dishonesty has become integral to the Republican economic agenda in a way that it is not to the Democratic agenda. The reason is not that Republicans are individually less honest than Democrats. Far from it. It is simply that the GOP, and the conservative movement, have embraced an economic agenda far out of step with the majority of the voting public. Republicans simply can’t win office or get their plans enacted into law, without fundamentally misleading the public. Lying has become a systematic necessity.

    Chait wrote that in 2007, in a book entitled The Big Con (which I highly recommend). The funny thing is, his words are even truer today than when he first wrote them almost a decade ago. Back then, gay marriage was still unpopular, and universal health care wasn’t totally verboten in the GOP. They’ve since embraced radical positions not just on economic issues but on social ones as well, as in the anti-contraception madness of the last few years.

    Appeasing the base means adopting all these radical positions; running in the general election means pretending you never held them–for the time being.