Republicans See Donald Trump As ‘Presidential,’ The Rest Of America Not So Much

Polling shows that Republicans increasingly see Donald Trump as Presidential and trustworthy. The rest of America disagrees.

donald-trump-microphone

Two separate results form the most recent ABC News/Washington Post poll show a very interesting dissonance between how Republican votes see Donald Trump and how the rest of America views Donald Trump, and it could interesting and important implications for how the Republican nomination fight proceeds and how the General Election plays out.

First up, Greg Sargent notes that self-identified Republicans have come to have an increasingly positive view of Donald Trump. By a wide margin, they now say that he is “qualified to serve as President,” that he is “honest and trustworthy,” that he understands the problems of ordinary people, and that he  “has the kind of personality and temperament it takes to serve effectively as president.” As Sargent goes on note, these numbers are consistent with a recent poll by Quinnipiac University which also found Republicans coming to have a largely positive view of Trump. In some sense, these numbers are surprising given the fact that, just two and a half months ago when Trump entered the race, opinion about him even from Republicans was overwhelmingly negative. Given the fact that the public had come to know him through his ostentatious public personality, along with an aborted 2011 flirtation with running for office that included a months-long obsession with President Obama’s birth certificate, not to mention Trump’s long history of saying outrageous things, this is somewhat surprising.  However, what seems to have happened is that, as Trump as risen in the polls, Republican voters have come to set aside their previous opinions of him. Additionally, the fact that Trump is saying things that many Republicans agree with is no doubt responsible for the fact that he is not only rising in the horse race polls, but that he is also being seen by Republicans as more “Presidential” than they might have seen him before he got into the race.

These results are duplicated in a new CBS News/New York Times Poll:

Republicans increasingly think that Donald J. Trump has the best chance of winning the 2016 presidential election as their nominee as confidence fades in traditional politicians like Jeb Bush and Scott Walker, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll.

Although Republicans have reservations about Mr. Trump and voters often end up embracing candidates who lagged in early polls, the billionaire businessman appears to be gaining acceptance as a possible nominee.

The poll found that 39 percent of Republican primary and caucus voters viewed Mr. Trump as their best shot at winning the presidency, compared with 26 percent in a CBS survey in August. Only 15 percent said they would not back him as the party’s standard-bearer.

(…)

The establishment candidates are battling fierce headwinds from a party electorate that vastly prefers a nominee from the business or private sector rather than a traditional politician, by 48 percent to 9 percent. Mr. Bush, a former Florida governor, and Mr. Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, have lost the most support by far since delivering what many analysts called lackluster performances in the August debate. Eleven percent of Republicans viewed Mr. Bush as best positioned to win in the general election, compared with 23 percent in August; only 2 percent thought Mr. Walker was most likely to win, down from 8 percent.

 

Carolyn Dillard, a 55-year-old Republican who is moving from Virginia to Florida, said in a follow-up interview that she was supporting Mr. Trump because he was “not your typical politician who says everything that is politically correct.” She credited him with targeting the national debt and illegal immigration.

I want somebody who is able to stand tall and say there are serious issues in this country and they need to be addressed,” said Ms. Dillard, a retired teacher and computer specialist. “We give Iran billions and our bridges are collapsing? Seriously? I’m more interested in leadership experience than political experience.”

Republicans showing the greatest political momentum in the poll were the three outsiders: Mr. Trump, who drew strong support from self-described moderates, people with family incomes of $50,000 or less, and those without a college degree; Mr. Carson, who edged out Mr. Trump among conservatives and wealthier voters and was much stronger among college graduates; and Carly Fiorina, a former business executive who had support from 4 percent of Republicans, an improvement over her trace amount in August.

Go outside the Republican Party, though, and the views about Donald Trump are very different:

Sixty percent of Americans don’t consider Donald Trump to be qualified to be president, according to new polling from the Washington Post and ABC News. Of registered voters, 56 percent hold that position, including over a third of Republicans.

That’s a pretty remarkable figure. There’s certainly an element of partisanship at play — more than three-quarters of Democrats think he’s unqualified — but over 60 percent of independents think Trump is not qualified, compared to 37 percent who think he is.

It’s a particularly interesting finding coming after Trump has seen a remarkable turnaround in his personal favorability ratings. In late May, Trump’s net favorability (those who view him favorably versus those who don’t) was at -49 among all voters and -18 with Republicans, according to polling from Quinnipiac University. (A Monmouth University poll in April had Trump’s favorability with Republicans at -28.) In Quinnipiac’s late August survey, Trump’s numbers had improved significantly: Up to +29 among Republicans and -18 among all voters. Only Democrats didn’t view him much more favorably.

The contrast in public opinion about Trump can be expressed visually. First, here’s a chart showing the responses to the question about whether Trump is qualified to be President, broken down by party:

Trump Post Chart One

And here’s a second chart showing the changes in Trump’s net favorability since entering the race:

Trump Post Chart Two

The biggest takeaway from these charts, of course, is the fact that while Trump is now increasingly being seen as a credible candidate for President by Republicans, even by Republicans that don’t support him, we are not seeing the same thing happen among voters as a whole. There has been somewhat of an uptick in Trump’s favorability among Independents, but this isn’t surprising given the fact that much of Trump’s message draws on the anti-establishment themes that people who consider themselves apart from both major political parties would be attracted. Indeed, I would suspect that many of the Independents who are now thinking more positively about Trump are people who are likely to vote for him in Republican primaries in states that allow them. Also, it’s entirely unsurprising that Democrats tend to view Trump negatively, not only because of his rhetoric but also because he tends to reaffirm most of their pre-existing opinions about the Republican Party.

What should concern Republicans here, I think, is the fact that a candidate who has a long history of saying offensive things, who is doing worse among Latino voters than even Mitt Romney did, and who appeals to the worst aspects of American politics is the undisputed frontrunner in the race for their party’s nomination, and that Republican voters seem to be able to increasingly seem him as an acceptable nominee. Numbers like those that Trump has among Republicans right now tend to be what leads someone to become the nominee to begin with, and while it’s still possible that he will stumble somewhere along the way it is now increasingly possible that Republicans will end up cheering Donald Trump in Cleveland next June. The fact that he seems to be almost universally despised outside the Republican Party, though, means that nominating him creates the risk of setting the party up for a disastrous General Election in 2016 not only at the Presidential level, but also further down the ballot where the GOP still has to worry about holding on

The original version of this post was updated to include information regarding the new CBS News/New York Times poll.

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. C. Clavin says:

    The GOP has become the Party of Stupid.
    So seeing Trump, who seems to desperately want to fwck his own daughter, as Presidential makes sense.
    http://fusion.net/story/176716/heres-the-creepy-video-of-donald-trump-saying-hed-date-his-own-daughter/

  2. Mark Ivey says:

    “The Don” will soon take complete control of the GOP base. It is inevitable..

    :))))

  3. al-Ameda says:

    What should concern Republicans here, I think, is the fact that a candidate who has a long history of saying offensive things, who is doing worse among Latino voters than even Mitt Romney did, and who appeals to the worst aspects of American politics is the undisputed frontrunner in the race for their party’s nomination, and that Republican voters seem to be able to increasingly seem him as an acceptable nominee.

    I believe that Trump (or some of the current GOP crew) can definitely be elected without people of color, or to put it another way, with White voters only – it’s all about turnout. The demographics appear to be an advantage for Democrats however if key constituencies fail to vote Republicans can win with Trump. It’s early, however I still do not believe that Trump will win the nomination, but …. any number of GOP candidates (or an combination thereof) – Rubio, Kasich, Bush, Paul, even Walker – could win if Democratic turnout is a lot less than in 2008 and 2012.

  4. MarkedMan says:

    Two thirds of Republicans think he is presidential? Wow. I had figured he was capped at the 15-25% of Republicans whose world view is primarily racist. Does anyone know if anyone in the Cain/Gingrich/Huckabee 2012 freak show ever came close to two thirds support in the self identified Republican category?

  5. C. Clavin says:

    @Mark Ivey:
    He has the base, already. He is the candidate of choice for the tea baggers, who care less about facts and policy and more about who is the biggest bully with the worst case of diarrhea of the mouth. What scares the bejezus out of the Republican establishment is that polls like this seem to show he is widening his appeal.

  6. C. Clavin says:

    Romney adviser Stuart Stevens on Trump becoming President:

    It’s not going to happen. For Donald Trump to win, everything we know about politics has to be wrong. And I don’t think it is. The timing of when it falls apart is always more difficult to know than inevitably that it will.

    Of course Stuart Stevens is in the same club as Bill Kristol and Dick Morris…perpetually wrong.
    So Trump is a shoe-in based on this.

  7. gVOR08 says:

    @C. Clavin:

    What scares the bejezus out of the Republican establishment…

    And it does indeed. I see the Club for Growth (sic) is running ads against Trump in Iowa. I wonder if anyone in the Club has the self-awareness to recognize that they were among the chief architects of this situation?

  8. Scott F. says:

    Republicans See Donald Trump As ‘Presidential,’ The Rest Of America Not So Much

    This is the same party that sees Dick Cheney as a statesman with credibility on foreign policy.

    These results say much less about Trump than they do the GOP.

  9. C. Clavin says:

    @gVOR08:
    No….none of them is intelligent enough to look at this situation with a critical eye and realize they themselves created the monster.
    Trump IS the perfect Fox News, right wing entertainment complex, candidate; emotional, fact free, spouting unrealistic, impossible to implement, policy prescriptions and bullying anyone who dares to question him. It’s like Sean Hannity 3-d printed his dream candidate…with a bad comb-over. It’s fwcking hilarious.
    It’s just the next phase, or step, in the ongoing Republican death spiral.
    Reagan started the culture war that begat carnival barkers and hucksters like Gingrich and Tom DeLay and Limbaugh and Hannity and whose ultimate realization is Donald Trump.

  10. sam says:

    The GOP has spent the better part of the last 40+ years ginning up the angry white Yahoo vote, then stiffing the Yahoo’s upon election. The angry white Yahoo’s are fed up and aren’t going to take it any more. So here comes a horse’s ass on a white horse stroking the hard little turds of resentment that lie at the cores of the Yahoos and swoooooon. The freak-out of the GOP poobahs is something to behold.

  11. C. Clavin says:

    In the meantime JEB! proposes a tax cut focused directly at the rich and no one notices.

  12. grumpy realist says:

    I’ve noticed the WSJ seems to be studiously ignoring everything The Donald says, while concentrating on the minutia of candidates like Jeb.

    Well, if you spend 30 years saying that government is No Bloody Good and Government Is The Reason You’re Not Succeeding, don’t be surprised when the lumpenproletariat wants to vote someone into the position who would be a wrecking ball.

    They’re mad, and they’re angry, and they’re Not Taking It Anymore. And the Republican Upper Crust are freaking out because the peasants are revolting.

  13. gVOR08 says:

    Why wouldn’t Republicans think Trump is presidential? They thought W was.

  14. Neil Hudelson says:

    that included a months-long obsession with President Obama’s birth certificate, not to mention Trump’s long history of saying outrageous things, this is somewhat surprising.

    You know, I keep forgetting this extended silliness from Trump, and I wonder if it explains how he is doing so well among conservatives, despite being biffles with Hillary, partially defending planned parenthood, and being for single payer health care. Despite all of his misgivings, he established himself as a bona fide Obama-hater. For a party whose platform consists of the now-cliche “opposite of what Obama wants, updated daily” and “brown people, ew” The Donald has done everything he needs to ensure lasting support.

  15. C. Clavin says:
  16. DrDaveT says:

    There’s certainly an element of partisanship at play — more than three-quarters of Democrats think he’s unqualified

    You say that as if party affiliation and grip on reality were somehow uncorrelated…

    Maybe they just misheard. Maybe they thought the question was about whether Trump is residential. Sure, he’s residential — and commercial, and light industrial. He’ll deal most any kind of property…

  17. CB says:

    What the @$&# is wrong with these people.

    Honestly. How many paint chips do you need to consume to find this guy presidential. What the hell.

  18. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @grumpy realist: Yes, they are revolting. They also are angry and want to take over the party and run their own candidates!

    [rim shot with splash cymbal]

    Sorry, everyone, I couldn’t resist.

  19. C. Clavin says:

    @CB:

    How many paint chips do you need to consume to find this guy presidential.

    And this from a guy that is typically a voice of reason….

  20. CB says:

    @C. Clavin:

    I prefer to be known as the voice of snark, profanity, and derision.

  21. Just Me says:

    Well this republican doesn’t think he’s presidential. My view of him is unfavorable and I don’t even think he’s conservative. I do think he is racist and misogynistic and a narcissist blow hard.

    My worst case scenario would be a race where Hillary Clinton and Donald Tump win the primaries. Pretty sure Inwould have to vote 3rd party or write in a candidate.

  22. Pete S says:

    Well, he (along with Carly and Ben) are the only ones who cannot be portrayed as failed politicians by their opponents. It would be hard to seem less presidential than Cruz or Jindal.

  23. Kylopod says:

    I think the Trump phenomenon is even weirder than most people here realize. Possibly the strangest thing I keep hearing from his supporters is that he’s showing up all the “RINOs” in the party. The use of the term RINO has always been absurd, but I used to think I could at least decipher it in ideological terms. For example, Romney was a RINO because he was the godfather of Obamacare; Bush Senior was a RINO because he raised taxes, and his son was a RINO because of Medicare D and TARP.

    But here you have a candidate who openly supports raising taxes on the rich, has defended single-payer health care, attacks free trade, and opposes cuts to Medicare and Social Security–and it’s his critics who are the RINOs.

    This is about as strong a confirmation as anything I’ve seen that “the base” of the party (and we know it’s the base because of the term “RINO”) is little more than disgruntled white people who aren’t “conservative” in any true philosophical sense. For every one of Trump’s pet issues, from birtherism to immigration, his shtick is to express plainly the element of white racial panic underlying these issues. To that end, his views on health care aren’t an aberration, since the key is that he attacks the hated Obamacare; the fact that he attacks it from the left is either lost in his supporters or they just don’t care, since at least he isn’t being “pro-Obama.”

    I’m not sure I’d call them right-wing extremists, since they are only right-wing and extreme on issues they care about, namely those issues pertaining to race. They aren’t the heirs to Goldwater, they’re the heirs to George Wallace and the Dixiecrats whom conservative propaganda likes to pretend are strictly part of the Democratic Party’s legacy.

    The whole Trump phenomenon is like some weird thought experiment confirming what we liberals have been saying about the right all along.

  24. JohnMcC says:

    @Kylopod: If you suffered through the MSNBC coverage of the R-party ‘debate’ last night, you heard several variations of this Steve Schmidt remark:

    “We’re at this moment when there’s a severeability between conservatism and issues. Conservatism is now expressed as an emotional sentiment. That sentiment is contempt and anger.”

    http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/steve-schmidt-trump-conservatism is my source for that particular variation on the theme.

  25. Tony W says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    For a party whose platform consists of the now-cliche “opposite of what Obama wants, updated daily” and “brown people, ew” The Donald has done everything he needs to ensure lasting support.

    It is crystal clear that the ‘opposite of what Obama wants’ has nothing to do with policy – since Trump agrees with a huge percentage of that policy.

    We’re down to the brown-people thing. Trump has exposed the Republican base as the racist turds they are, and they don’t even see it.

  26. An Interested Party says:

    I prefer to be known as the voice of snark, profanity, and derision.

    Welcome to the jungle, er, club…

  27. Thomas Weaver says:

    For the last thirty years we’ve had all kinds of politicians – none, I say none has done what we thought we heard them say they would do for the majority of Americans; so, the conservatives want to try someone/something else. If it could be done, I would randomly with blindfold select 50 people out of the phone book: install them in the 50 highest positions in government and guarantee that it would work 100% better. But, for now, let’s try the Donald.