Has Donald Trump Peaked? Possibly, But He’s Still Doing Pretty Good

There are some signs that Donald Trump has peaked in the polls, but at his current position he's still in pretty good shape unfortunately.

Trump Announcement

Kevin Drum takes a look at the RealClearPolitics poll average and thinks he sees signs that Donald Trump has peaked:

I hopped over to RealClear Politicsthis morning to take a look at their latest poll averages, and it shows something interesting: Donald Trump may have hit his ceiling. On August 5, he hit a peak at 24.3 percent. He then plateaued for a few days and has been falling ever since. He now stands at 22.0 percent.

Not all poll averages show the same thing. I also took a look at Pollster, and they show Trump’s climb barely starting to slow down, but not quite peaking yet. Even there, though, it look like Trump is going to hit a ceiling soon.

Here’s the chart that accompanies Drum’s piece, which does indeed seem to show that Trump has, at least for the moment, hid a ceiling somewhere around 25%:

RCP Trends

As Drum notes, the trend lines at Pollster, the poll aggregator now run by The Huffington Post are a little different. There, it’s not quite as apparent that Trump may have peaked in the past couple weeks, but there are still some signs that at the very least the momentum of his rise has slowed significantly. The different between the trend lines can largely be explained by the fact that Pollster includes several polls that RealClearPolitics does not, including recent online polls that give Trump a lead as high as 32% that are not replicated in any of the traditional polling. Additionally, there seem to be at least some differences in how the poll averages themselves are calculated. Notwithstanding those differences, though, the trends are generally identical and they do seem to show that, while Donald Trump continues to lead the Republican field, we’ve now reached a point where his numbers are at least flattening. That trend is likely to continue for the next several weeks before the next Republican debate both because of the fact that we’re heading into a slow end-of-summer news cycle for the last two weeks before Labor Day Weekend, and because we’re unlikely to see any real movement in the polls before the next debate unless one of the candidates stumbles significantly or we start seeing major ad buys, which isn’t likely to start happen just yet, at least not until after the first debate.

Drum goes on to predict that 25% will end up being the peak of Trump’s support, while admitting that he’s obviously risking an egg-on-your-face moment if her turns out to be wrong. Having previously predicted the possible beginning of the end of Trump’s rise in the polls before, I’m not going to make that prediction myself at this point. However, even if Drum is right that doesn’t mean that Trump will be fading from the scene any time soon. In a field this large, poll numbers in the range of 20-25% still make you a frontrunner, and therefore the focus of the race. If these numbers were to continue for the next six months or more, then 20-25% would mean winning primaries and caucuses, which obviously won’t mean as much in the early stages of the race when delegates are being apportioned on a proportional basis rather than winner-take-all. Additionally, with a virtually unlimited personal fortune Trump can stay in this race as long as he wants to and that he is largely immune from many of the pressures that would otherwise force a candidate from a race. That, combined with fairly decent poll numbers puts Trump in a position that most candidates would love to be in,

So, yes, it’s possible that Trump has peaked in terms of the level of support he will get in the polls going forward for the foreseeable future. Given that there are sixteen other candidates in the race, and that Trump remains a polarizing figure even among Republicans, the opportunities for him to rise further seem rather limited. That being said, it also doesn’t seem as though Donald Trump is going to be fading away any time soon, and at the moment he seems to be in a far better position than any of the other candidates in the race. Republicans may not like to hear it, but Donald Trump is going to be around for awhile.


FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held 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 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. grumpy realist says:

    (eats popcorn)

    I still think that Trump’s main effect is going to pull the bulk of the candidates over to the crazy. Have you SEEN what they’ve been blethering about birthright citizenship?

    Either Trump’s supporters will get bored and look for another shiny goldfish to follow, or they’ll stick with the amusing one.

    (eats more popcorn)

  2. Slugger says:

    I looked at the RealClearPolitics site. That green line that dives earlier and more than Trump’s line is JEB! The rapidly climbing red line is Dr. Carson, the black line is Kasich, and the violet line going up is Ms. Fiorina.
    It is hard to make a case for sanity breaking out on the basis of this graph. Trump down, JEB! down more, big winners the two never beens, and a smaller gain for a plausible candidate.

  3. Neil Hudelson says:

    He’s peaked, for now.

    I remember reading a lot of articles about how even if Trump does rise, eventually the smaller candidates will start falling off, and their supporters would flock to Rubio, Walker, Bush, etc.

    No one seems to be talking about the reverse scenario.

    When Carson and Cruz fall off, who is going to pick up their supporters? I’d put more money on Trump than Walker. And the people who support Christie because he talks like real people talk? Only one other candidate has that appeal.

    Trump still has a ceiling, but depending on when candidates fall away, that ceiling may be 30% or more.

  4. Davebo says:
  5. Pinky says:

    That chart is interesting. Trump has had three significant jumps. The first was in late-May when his name started to show up in the polls. His support went up as the top three candidates (Bush, Walker, Rubio) fell. The second bump came at the expense of the lower-ranked candidates and Bush, but Walker was immune, even rising. The third was just before the debate, when he was getting press coverage, and his increase matched Walker’s decrease.

  6. charon says:

    @Neil Hudelson:


    Cruz has raised more money as a candidate than even Bush. Counting PAC money, he is still second only to Bush. I see him as too well funded to drop out early.

    The ones who have significant support but could drop out early I see as Huckabee, Paul and Carson.

  7. Ron Beasley says:

    Trumps Stchtick will wear thin by the time the primaries actually come around. Perry, Jindal, Huckabee and others will be gone by then.

  8. michael reynolds says:

    What continues to strike me is the weakness of the establishment candidates. Walker going nowhere. And thank God Kasich isn’t catching on, at least not yet.

    Jeb is the real story as far as I’m concerned. I’d be interested if anyone can point to an anointed establishment candidate doing this poorly before. Mitt and McCain were weak, but were they this weak?

    What happens after Trump flames out? It’s going to look like the remainders table at Barnes and Noble. Bush has been ignored, treated with indifference, made no impact, impressed no one.

    It’s different from what’s happening with Hillary. I think 90% of Democrats think Hillary is the candidate in the end, and 90% of us are fine with that, but a lot of Democrats are window-shopping, not thrilled, still fantasizing about the perfect candidate, but reconciled to her inevitability.

    It’s the vast wave of utter indifference that should worry Jeb Bush. No one outside of the billionaire class seems to give two shits about him. If I were him my feelings would be hurt.

  9. gVOR08 says:

    @michael reynolds: Lennon and McCartney said –

    I don’t care too much for money, money can’t buy me love

    They were wrong.

  10. al-Ameda says:

    This is so much more than I hoped for. That said, I do worry that Trump has peaked too early. I was hoping (perhaps unrealistically) that Trump would be peaking as the GOP convention convenes next summer.

    I think Trump has completely flummoxed Jeb Bush, or maybe I’m wrong and Jeb’s strategy is to wait Trump out. If that’s the case, then why has Jeb even bothered to respond in such a tepid manner to Trump’s various pronouncements?

  11. Kylopod says:

    @michael reynolds: I think one of the main reasons a lot of us assume Bush will be the nominee in the end is because we’ve seen this play several times before.

    In pretty much all the GOP presidential contests in recent memory, there was always one candidate viewed as the ultimate “default” candidate that the party could fall back on, and that candidate always turned out to be the nominee, even though the voters would go through periods of flirting with alternatives. Just go through all the contests since Reagan, and this rule seems to hold: it held for Bush Sr. in 1988, Dole in 1996, W. in 2000, McCain in 2008 and Romney in 2012.

    Of course I keep hearing that “This time it’s different.” The problem is that I was hearing that in all the earlier contests, too.

    Still, I agree with you: Jeb looks unusually weak for a “default” candidate, and he’s really testing the rule. I think what will ultimately happen is that the party establishment will finally hold their noses and coalesce around one of the non-crazy caucus (Bush, Rubio, Walker, Kasich) but it’s taking them longer than usual to make up their minds.

  12. Pinky says:

    @Kylopod: Longer than usual?

  13. grumpy realist says:

    @Kylopod: Sorry, but I consider Walker to be coo-coo for cocoa NUTS.