Trump Surges Ahead Again In Post-Debate Polling

The first post-debate polls of the GOP race have more good news for Donald Trump.

Fifth Republican Debate

The first polls taken entirely in the wake of the fifth Republican debate shows that Donald Trump continues to move forward and maintain his leadership, while Ted Cruz rises and Ben Carson continues to fade into the background. Additionally, a new poll out of New Hampshire shows New Jersey Governor Chris Christie surging into fourth place, suggesting that he may be a bigger part of the story of this campaign in the new year than many were anticipating.

First up, there’s a new national poll from Fox News Channel, taken entirely after the December 15th debate, that has Trump increasing his lead and his overall poll numbers by eleven points since the last time Fox polled the race:

Donald Trump, a candidate even Republicans once considered a side show, increases his lead yet again in the nomination race, according to the latest Fox News national poll.

The poll also finds Ted Cruz ticking up, Marco Rubio slipping, and Ben Carson dropping.

Trump hits a high of 39 percent among Republican primary voters, up from 28 percent a month ago.  The increase comes mainly from men, white evangelical Christians, and voters without a college degree — and at the expense of Carson.

(…)

Trump’s 11-point jump in support comes after his comments about stopping non-U.S. Muslims from coming into the country.

Seven in 10 GOP primary voters are in favor of a temporary ban.

Back in June, the Fox News poll asked whether voters felt the real-estate mogul and reality TV star was a serious candidate or a “side show.”  At that time, 64 percent of GOP primary voters said Trump was a side show, rather than a serious candidate (29 percent).  Today, it’s the reverse — 33 percent of GOP voters say he’s a side show and 65 percent say serious candidate.

Support for Trump in the GOP race is more than double that for Cruz, who comes in second with 18 percent.  That’s up four points since mid-November and nearly twice the 10 percent he had in October.

Rubio garners 11 percent, down three points from 14 percent last month.

Carson drops to 9 percent. He was at 18 percent last month and had a high of 23 percent support earlier this fall.

After that, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, and Rand Paul get three percent each.  All others receive two percent or less.

The favorites among white evangelical Christians are Trump (39 percent), Cruz (26 percent) and Carson (12 percent).  Since last month, Trump is up 14 points among this group, Cruz is up 8 and Carson is down 12.

Trump’s backing among men went from 28 percent in November to 46 percent now.  (He mostly held steady among women at 30 percent.)

Forty-five percent of GOP primary voters without a college degree go for Trump — up from 30 percent in November. At the same time support for Carson fell 9 points among this group.

For comparison, support among those with a college degree is more mixed: Trump (31 percent), Cruz (19 percent), Rubio (16 percent) and Carson (10 percent).

(…)

By wide margins, Trump is seen as the candidate most qualified to handle the economy (52 percent) and most effective against the Islamic extremist group ISIS (49 percent).  Cruz comes in a distant second on both (13 percent economy, 17 percent ISIS) — and no other candidate gets into double-digits.

Views are more mixed when primary voters are asked who is most qualified to be commander-in-chief.  Trump is the top pick at 31 percent, followed by Cruz at 21 percent.  Next it’s Rubio at 11 percent and Bush at 8 percent.  Trump (+12 points) and Cruz (+8 points) both improved on this measure since early November.  Only six percent see Carson as most qualified to be commander-in-chief now — an 11-point drop since last month.

There are two data points that are potentially troublesome for Trump, but they are minor ones for the time being. First of all, Trump’s lead shrinks somewhat when the field is narrowed to the top four candidates in the race. In this scenario, Trump has 41% to Ted Cruz’s 25%, followed by Marco Rubio at 17% and Ben Carson at 12%. This puts Trump’s lead over Cruz at a smaller rate than it is in a wider poll, but to be honest that’s somewhat to be expected when the field narrows and isn’t necessarily problematic at this stage of the race. Additionally, a head-to-head race between Trump and presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has Trump losing by nearly ten percentage points while other Republicans, such as Marco Rubio, who narrowly leads Clinton, Ted Cruz, who is tied with her, and Ben Carson, who is only two points behind. As I’ve noted before, though, these head-to-head General Election polls this early in the cycle don’t necessarily tell us anything. There was polling at this point in the 2012 cycle, for example, that showed Mitt Romney within the margin of error or even beating Barack Obama, for example, and, most famously, polling in December 1979 showed President Jimmy Carter handily beating Ronald Reagan in a head-to-head match, and we all know how that turned out. As the race moves forward, a candidate’s performance in these hypothetical General Election matches may start to matter to voters looking for a candidate who can win in November. For now, though, they’re not really worth talking about, and Trump’s number here is unlikely to blunt his seemingly unstoppable rise in the polls.

Trump also sees his numbers rise in a second post-debate national poll from Public Policy Polling, where both his overall number and his lead have risen by six points since the previous PPP poll:

PPP’s newest national Republican primary poll finds Donald Trump holding his largest lead yet in the wake of Tuesday night’s debate. He’s at 34% to 18% for Ted Cruz, 13% for Marco Rubio, 7% for Jeb Bush, 6% for Ben Carson, 5% for Chris Christie, 4% each for Carly Fiorina and Mike Huckabee, 2% each for John Kasich and Rand Paul, 1% each for Lindsey Graham and Rick Santorum, and less than 1% each for Jim Gilmore and George Pataki.

Trump is the biggest gainer since our last national poll in mid-November, going from 26% to 34%. He’s also become more broadly popular with GOP voters, with his favorability rating going from 51/37 up to 58/34. Trump’s hold on the Republican electorate holds true with most segments of the party. He leads with 36% among voters most concerned with having a nominee who’s conservative on the issues, and with 34% among voters most concerned about being able to beat a Democrat in the fall. He leads among both Evangelicals with 35%, and among non-Evangelicals with 33%. He leads with both women (34%) and men (also 34%). He leads with both younger voters (38%) and seniors (32%).

There are only 2 groups of the electorate Trump doesn’t lead with- the closely related groups of Tea Party and ‘very conservative’ voters. Cruz has the upper hand with each of those. He’s at 38% with ‘very conservative’ voters to 32% for Trump, with no one else getting more than 8%. And he’s at 41% with Tea Party voters to 32% for Trump with no one else getting more than 9%.  Cruz has been the second biggest gainer since our last poll, going from 14% to 18%. There are other positive signs for Cruz in the poll. He’s the most frequent second choice of GOP voters with 14% picking him on that front to 10% each for Carson and Trump. He’s also the second pick of Trump voters specifically (25% to 13% for Carson) so he’s well positioned to benefit if Trump ever does falter.

Marco Rubio is really treading water. He was at 13% last month, and he’s at 13% this month. He’s losing second choice support- 13% said he was their next man up in November, now it’s just 9%. Rubio has also seen a pretty big drop in his net favorability rating among GOP primary voters- it’s gone from +30 at 55/25 in November to now +15 at 49/34. He’s certainly still in the top tier but if anything his position is weakening rather than getting stronger.

Ben Carson’s moment now really appears to have passed. He’s dropped down to 6%, after being at 19% in mid-November. Interestingly his favorability rating has barely budged- it was 61/24 last month and it’s 61/26 this month. But increasingly even though GOP voters continue to really like Carson, they no longer see him as Presidential material.

The underlying numbers in the PPP polls are basically similar to the Fox News poll, and what both polls tell us is that Donald Trump continues to move forward as the leader of the Republican field as we get closer to the final month before voting starts in the 2016 election cycle, and that his strength only seems to be growing. The fact that his is occurring in the wake of both Trump’s controversial plan to bar Muslims from immigrating to the United States for an unspecified period of time and a debate performance that really wasn’t any better than any of Trump’s other debate appearances, and which included a moment in which he seemed to be unable to speak intelligently about even basic facts about defense policy, is yet another indication of just how loyal his supporters actually are. It’s also worth noting that Trump’s numbers, which now show him moving into the 30s and touching the 40s, are consistent with a trend that began before the debate, as demonstrated by pre-debate polling from both ABC News and Monmouth University.

Looking at the national polling averages, the trend that we’ve seen developing over the past month is becoming even more apparent. In the RealClearPolitics average, Trump (33.8%) now has a more than seventeen point lead over Ted Cruz (16.6%) with Cruz followed by Marco Rubio (12.4%). Ben Carson remains in the top four and averages 11%, but his downward trajectory is now firmly established and he now seems to be bleeding supporters to the men in the top three of the race. As this trend continues, one would expect the retired neurosurgeon to be out of doubt digits relatively quickly. After Carson, Jeb Bush hangs on by a thread with a 4.2% average in the polls, followed by Chris Christie at 3.1%. After Christie, every other candidate is averaging under 3% and seemingly on the road to utter irrelevance to the point that it’s not even clear if they’ll qualify for invitations to the debates that will be held in January. The numbers in the Pollster average are similar, as are the trends, but it’s worth noting that in this average Ben Carson is already below double digits in the average and clearly sinking further.

At the state level, there’s only been one reliable poll in the early primary states, a poll out of New Hampshire conducted by Franklin Pierce University and The Boston HeraldIn that poll, Trump remains at the top with 26%, putting him fourteen points ahead of Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, who are tied at 12% each. The big story out of this poll, though, may be the fact that Chris Christie has surged into third place in the poll at 11%, continuing a trend that began for him in the Granite State in mid-October and likely reflects the fact that he has spent a lot of time campaigning there in the same town hall style format that worked so well for him in two campaigns in New Jersey. After Christie, Jeb Bush comes next at 10%, which is slightly better than he’s done in other recent polling but still likely disappointing for a campaign that probably expected to be doing better at this point. After Bush, there’s John Kasich at 8%, Carly Fiorina at 6% and Ben Carson at 5%, Rand Paul at 3% and every other candidate polling below 1%The polling average for the Granite State is mostly consistent with this latest poll, with RealClearPolitics showing Trump (28.3%) sixteen points ahead of Marco Rubio (12.3%) and Chris Christie in third place at 10.7%. Ted Cruz at 9.3%, Jeb Bush at 8.7%, John Kasich at 7.3%, Ben Carson at 5.3%, Carly Fiorina at 4.7%, Rand Paul at 2.3%, and, again, every other candidate averaging below 1%. The numbers are essentially similar, with some variation in the Pollster average.

While it’s a small universe to work from, and we haven’t seen any post-debate polling from Iowa as of yet, these polls seem to confirm what we have been seeing over the past month, namely that the race for the Republican nomination is narrowing to what arguably is a four man race. At the top, of course, there’s Donald Trump whose dominance continues to  confound analysts, Republican insiders, and sane people alike. Seemingly nothing Trump does or says has changed his position or diminished his strength, outside of Iowa where Ted Cruz’s appeal to the heavily evangelical base of the Iowa Republican Party threatens to push Trump into second place. After Trump, there’s Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, who continue to be engaged in a pitched battle and after then, I’d argue that Chris Christie is a contender for fourth place if he continues performing well in New Hampshire. Ben Carson certainly doesn’t seem to be entitled to that spot due to the fact that his numbers are falling like a rock and it seems unlikely at this point that he’ll be able to reverse the trend. Christie, on the other hand, has the potential to become the “surprise” candidate in New Hampshire, something that could help him going forward. The problem for Christie, though, is that it’s unclear where he goes after the Granite State. He’s far behind in Iowa, South Carolina, and Florida, and it’s hard to see how he could do well in the largely southern states that will dominate the early weeks of March. Nonetheless, given how well Christie is doing in New Hampshire right now it’s worth keeping an eye on him.

As for the rest of the candidates, it’s hard to see any of them becoming contenders given the position that they are in. Jeb Bush’s expectations were clearly too high in the beginning, and the antipathy to the Bush name in general and Jeb Bush in particular among conservatives is clearly a very high hurdle for him to overcome. Like Bush, John Kasich has the resume one would think would serve a candidate for President well, but his perceived moderation as well as a record as Ohio Governor that includes things like accepting the Medicaid expansion available under the Affordable Care Act seem to have fatally damaged him. Carly Fiorina’s August/September boomlet, meanwhile, was clearly exactly that since she’s been unable to sustain those numbers, while Rand Paul seemingly wins the prize for the candidate who was doing better before he started campaign for President than he is as an actual candidate. As for the rest of the pack, they need to be out of the race already, and seem to have stayed on this long only because of the exposure given by the undercard debates. Since we’re unlikely to see those going forward, we may see these candidates begin to drop out of the race.

We’ll likely see some additional polls released in the coming days, but seeing as we’re coming to the beginning of the holidays we are likely entering a point where most polling companies will shut down until after the new year. At that point, I suppose, we’ll see if anything has changed.

 

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. Mark Ivey says:

    Like Agent Smith taking over the GOP “Matrix”

  2. Mikey says:

    Once Carson drops out, Trump will hit the low 50% range. It will be interesting to see how the supporters of the other doomed not-Trumps align themselves when those candidates drop. Trump could easily end up over 60% if he shows well in the early primaries.

    At this point I am not sure what stops him getting the nomination. No ground game? He doesn’t need one, his supporters are zealots who will come out regardless. No big money into campaign ads? The 24-hour news cycle gives him all the ads he needs, for free.

    Meanwhile the Democrats are doing their best to ensure none of their candidates get any actual exposure. A debate the Saturday before Christmas and two days after one of the biggest and most anticipated movie openings in history? Who the hell do they have running things over there?

    It may be too early to seriously worry, but it’s still unsettling.

  3. Ron Beasley says:

    I think at this point the Republican establishment is hoping for a brokered convention. They could nominate someone who is not even a candidate now, like Paul Ryan. I doubt Ryan could win the White House but he’s less likely to take the Senate down with him as a Trump or a Cruz would do.

  4. CSK says:

    @Mikey:

    I think the Democrats are playing it exactly right. Only the real political junkies of either stripe and the Trump Fan Club are paying much attention now, so why waste effort that can be put to better use after the New Year?

    @Ron Beasley:

    The more likely it looks as if Trump will be the nominee, the less likely a brokered convention appears.

  5. Mikey says:

    @CSK:

    I think the Democrats are playing it exactly right. Only the real political junkies of either stripe and the Trump Fan Club are paying much attention now, so why waste effort that can be put to better use after the New Year?

    True, given there’s no real competition for Clinton (and the DNC is making sure it stays that way) it doesn’t make a lot of sense to devote resources to solidify what’s already a foregone conclusion.

  6. Slugger says:

    You have to give Trump credit for creating a bulletproof campaign persona. One of his responses to the Putin killing of opponents was to say that the US has also killed a lot of people. If Obama had said that the ragegasm from Republican leaders would have been of supernova magnitude. “Why is he always apologizing for The USA?” would have been the least thing said. Advocacy of illegal and constitutional actions against a defined religious group, indiscriminate bombing, downplaying political murders in Russia, implying that the US does not have clean hands…bring it on, this is my guy; he’s got my vote.
    Oh, I should not forget Trump’s cred with the business community who love strategic bankruptcy and the religious community who love serial marriages.
    The guy is a genius. Seriously, only a genius could pull this off.

  7. PoinSpirit says:

    Is anyone else sick of the political class? Come on a Bush-Clinton ticket in 2016, do we have a ruling class or something? And they never run out of money…they just raise the debt to pay for their lavish vacations, etc. It was the merchant class that threw out the last political class (King George). I’m just glad someone is able to shake this tree and hoping some of the rotten fruit is exposed for what it is.

  8. CSK says:

    @Slugger:

    Or an epic sleazebag who knows exactly how to manipulate the gullible.

  9. grumpy realist says:

    It looks to me that the Republican base has cocooned itself in the Fox News/radio talk show environment for so long that the only emotion they have is Rage Against The Machine (the Machine being of course the Republican elite). They’re willing to tear up the Republican Party rather than be ignored Yet One More Time.

    If the whole affair ends up as a brokered convention, expect even more accusation of treason and willingness to stomp out.

    The Republican elite must feel like Dr. Frankenstein realizing that the monster has lurched out of control and is now on the way to destroy its inventor.

    (I’m not as certain as the rest that a Hillary-Trump match-up would be an outright win for Hillary. The tribalism of this country is so strong that I predict as soon as Trump gets nominated as the official candidate, a whole bunch of Republicans who profess at present to be appalled by him will find reasons why Trump isn’t so bad after all.)

  10. ElizaJane says:

    If Trump loses in a landslide to Hillary, the level of right-wing rage will not abate; it will get worse. Their hatred of Hillary is already so over-the-top, and so non-fact-based, that the reality of her in the White House will send them over the edge. The 2020 election will make this one look sane and calm on the Republican side.

    I live in a pretty Republican neighborhood and my neighbors are true moderate Republicans. They are in despair.

  11. Davebo says:

    @Mikey: I don’t think it’s the DNC’s fault that there’s no real competition for Clinton.

    It’s just that.. there’s no real competition for Clinton. Nice guy but no one knows who Martin O’Malley is and well, the vast majority of Democrat voters are going to vote for a Democrat.

    That and Bernie’s campaign is starting to look like a dumpster fire.

  12. Slugger says:

    @Slugger: I just saw where Trump tweeted that “the last thing the country needs, another BUSH! dumb as a rock” about JEB. There has been some speculation that Trump might run as an independent if the GOP rejects him. I think he should challenge for the Democratic nomination instead.

  13. Gustopher says:

    Republicans will discover Trump’s flaws if he gets the nomination and loses to Clinton, and then the search will be on again for someone who isn’t a RINO.

  14. al-Ameda says:

    @Gustopher:

    Republicans will discover Trump’s flaws if he gets the nomination and loses to Clinton, and then the search will be on again for someone who isn’t a RINO.Republicans will discover Trump’s flaws if he gets the nomination and loses to Clinton, and then the search will be on again for someone who isn’t a RINO.

    Once Ben Carson leaves the campaign to take a nap, his remaining support will probably go to Cruz, and then we’ll see if the Republican Party will nominate the only guy that the 27% feels is not a RINO – Ted Cruz. Pretty soon (New Hampshire, South Carolina) we’re going to see if Trump has caused people formerly known as the Republican mainstream to run to the cliff with him.

    The entertainment value of the Republican Party campaign can hardly be beat.

  15. CSK says:

    @grumpy realist:

    The “base” gets its “news” now from three sources: Breitbart, The Conservative Treehouse, and Mark Levin. Fox has become far too left-wing for them.

    @Gustopher:

    According to the “base,” the only non-RINO is Trump. The “base” feels it has been stabbed in the back by every person they’ve elected to Congress. Even Ted Cruz.

  16. anjin-san says:

    Clearly his bromance with Putin is paying off.

  17. Moosebreath says:

    @Slugger:

    And Bush responded that Trump is a jerk. Not that I disagree with either of them, but somehow one can hear far better insults at most playgrounds during elementary school recess.

  18. Tyrell says:

    1980 election: Reagan wound up winning and he had the Iran hostage fiasco to thank. Secretary Kerry should have made Iran pay for that.
    “Ayatollah assahola” (popular bumper sticker of 1980)

  19. Kylopod says:

    I feel like I’m the only sane man in the asylum.

    All this talk about what happens “if Trump wins the nomination” or even more, “if Trump is elected president.”

    Are you guys listening to what you’re saying? Let’s be clear: Trump doesn’t want to be president. That’s never been his intention or goal. This is patently obvious to anyone who’s actually paid attention to what he’s been doing, yet it seems like most people have been somehow talking themselves into thinking that the Emperor does, indeed, have clothes.

    Take, for example, his campaign’s recent statement that he will win “100% of the black vote.” Let’s unpack that statement for a moment. First, you have the fact that no Republican since Hoover has won a majority of the black vote, let alone 100% of it. Then you have the fact that he’s made incredibly racist statements, including going full birther against the first African American president who himself won 95% of the black vote, twice.

    It’s statements like this that make Trump categorically different from the standard right-wing racial demagogue. Figures like Rush Limbaugh and Pat Buchanan have denied being racist, but they’ve never denied that they’re perceived as racist by a lot of people, nor have they ever claimed that their views are popular among African Americans.

    It’s one thing to say racist things then deny that you’re a racist. That’s old hat, practically a cliche. It’s quite another to deny the seemingly uncontroversial observation that there is a controversy at all.

    When Trump says things like this, he’s not being delusional. Nor is he lying in the usual political sense–of deliberately trying to mislead. Nor is he engaging in “bullsh!t,” or an indifference to the truth.

    None of those categories adequately capture what Trump appears to be doing. It’s all trolling. He’s trying to suck up all the attention by being more outrageous than anyone else. To do that, he can’t even be bound by the usual rationalizations that accompany the type of extremism he peddles. His objective is not to fool anyone, least of all himself. His objective is to make you spit out your coffee.

    And that’s the case with virtually all his public pronouncements, from claiming he’ll bring down gas prices by yelling at NATO to saying he’ll make Mexico pay for a wall. What sets him apart isn’t that he makes unrealistic promises; most of the candidates do that to one degree or another. No, it’s the fact that he doesn’t even attempt to create the willing suspension of disbelief. He doesn’t just happen to say outlandish things, he seems to aim to sound as cartoonish as possible. Why? Because, quite simply, he can. What makes his brand of trolling effective is that no matter how ridiculous his claims about what he’ll succeed at doing are, they can’t be disproven. He consistently talks like someone who has the luxury of knowing his claims will never be put to the test. So he’s free to say whatever the hell he likes. He can say he’ll win all 50 states, or he’ll demolish ISIS in a couple of months, or he won’t have to cut Medicare or Social Security because he’d make the country so rich you wouldn’t have to bother (yes, he did actually say that last thing), because no one will ever find out.

    You can choose to read these as the statements of someone deeply delusional, in which case he’ll be in for an unpleasant surprise if and when he ever enters office. I choose to think he knows exactly what he’s doing. I don’t believe he’s going to win the nomination. I’ve made the case before, and I won’t rehash it here. What I do think is that if he ever sees himself in any real danger of actually being placed in the Oval Office, he’ll find some way to jump ship. Meanwhile, he’s going to stretch this thing out as long as he can, trying to do what he loves best, which is troll his way to center stage.

  20. Mikey says:

    @Kylopod: Even as one of the less-sane in the asylum (haha) I still accept that everything you say is true. Pretty much everyone here knows it’s true. That’s not what concerns us–what does is the most important factor: Trump’s fan base. It’s not all about Trump anymore and hasn’t been for a while. There are tens of millions of Americans riding the train with him and they either don’t understand or don’t want to accept that he’s just trolling. They BELIEVE him and they believe IN him. He’s not just a Presidential candidate to them; he’s a savior, champion of the downtrodden, rescuer of the white working man, restorer of diminished privilege.

  21. grumpy realist says:

    @Kylopod: Trump could be trolling AND want to win the election, you realize. It all comes down to his ego.

    I don’t think we should ignore exactly how much Trump hates what Barack Obama did to him–Obama made him look like a fool. (Not that Trump isn’t a fool in the first place, but President Obama made it obvious.)

    The question is whether Trump would be satisfied with getting elected President or whether he wants to be a two-term POTUS.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Trump were to pull a Palin–“rule” for as long as he feels it’s amusing, but as soon as he actually has to do any work, jump off.

    What would be even more explosive to the Republican Party would be if Trump were to become the nominee–and then resign before the election. If it looks like a blowout election for Hillary, I can see Trump doing that. (I wonder if the RNC realize that’s another possibility.)

  22. MBunge says:

    @Kylopod: Trump doesn’t want to be president.

    And Hilary didn’t want to run for Senate, but look where that wound up.

    Mike

  23. CSK says:

    @Mikey:

    Yes, yes, a thousand times yes to this comment. Trump isn’t just a candidate to his acolytes. He’s the savior of the Republic.

    You know what they like best about him? He’s the only honest man in the race, they claim; he’s the only one who doesn’t lie to them. They believe that.

    Terrifying.

  24. Kylopod says:

    @Mikey:

    He’s not just a Presidential candidate to them; he’s a savior, champion of the downtrodden, rescuer of the white working man, restorer of diminished privilege.

    I agree that describes a lot of his fan base, but I don’t think it constitutes close to a majority of Republicans. A lot of Republicans who like what he’s saying still realize he’s not all that serious. (I’m not speculating; I’ve talked to some of them.) They see him as a big FU to the establishment. That has to be taken account when reading the polls. Surveys sometimes overinflate answers that are not actually serious (see Jedi as a religion, for example). I think from the start that was part of the Trump phenomenon, and it remains so today.

  25. Kylopod says:

    @MBunge:

    And Hilary didn’t want to run for Senate, but look where that wound up.

    Uh, huh. I presume you’re alluding to the predictions of some pundits at the time. (Dick Morris, maybe?) What your point is supposed to be, I cannot guess. Hillary was very active in the Clinton Administration while she was First Lady, and I don’t think you’re going to seriously argue that her public profile was similar to that of a Donald Trump.

    Honestly, this reminds me of those conversations I had on Daily Kos with Dennis Kucinich supporters. “Kucinich is never going to be president,” I told them. One of them said back to me, “They said a black man could never be elected president.”

    This is the logic: anytime you dare to make a political prediction of any kind whatsoever, someone thinks they have cleverly shot down your argument by pointing out that There Were People In The Past Who Made Bad Predictions About a Totally Different Figure In a Totally Different Context For Completely Different Reasons.

    I call this a Mickey Mouse argument. Hey, Mickey Mouse is going to be the next president! Think it’ll never happen? Well, they said a man named “Barack Hussein Obama” could never make it either! QED.

  26. MBunge says:

    @Kylopod: Uh, huh. I presume you’re alluding to the predictions of some pundits at the time.

    No, I’m alluding to pretty much all publicly available evidence which indicated that Hilary running for Senate from NY was NOT something she initiated or had any real plan to do before others got the ball rolling.

    And considering that your whole argument about Trump seems based on you pulling opinions out of your butt, I’m not exactly sure this is the argument upon which you should plant your flag.

    Looking at history, it seems likely that we’ll get down to a two-man race, the gap between Trump and the other guy will tighten and enough of Trump’s support will prove illusory to keep him from winning the nomination.

    But right now, Trump is dominating the field less than 45 days before the first votes are cast and the two closest candidates are the only guy who might be a worse candidate than Trump (Cruz) and another guy who looks completely unready for the big stage (Rubio).

    Mike

  27. Mikey says:

    @Kylopod:

    I agree that describes a lot of his fan base, but I don’t think it constitutes close to a majority of Republicans.

    It may not, but the important question is whether it constitutes a majority of the Republicans who are actually motivated enough to show up and vote.

    On the other hand, there’s a pretty big chunk of voters who aren’t really paying much attention right now and may just answer a poll with “Trump” because he’s the first name that comes to mind. If Trump falls, it could be because they throw their support to another candidate when they start becoming more involved.

  28. Kylopod says:

    @Mikey:

    On the other hand, there’s a pretty big chunk of voters who aren’t really paying much attention right now and may just answer a poll with “Trump” because he’s the first name that comes to mind.

    Exactly. A few days ago Nate Silver wrote a piece showing how Trump has absolutely dominated media coverage during this cycle, and how there’s been a strong correlation between the level of coverage he has received and his level of support in the polls.

    Look, I’m not denying that he has a core of really fervent supporters. I just think that group is likely smaller than it appears from the polls, because there are also a large number of basically uncommitted voters who select him because he’s more familiar to them than any other candidate. They may even like some things about him, such as his “politically incorrect” opinions, without necessarily being committed to vote for him in the end.

    It’s possible he’ll finally start to fade as we get closer to actual voting. It’s also possible he’ll experience a stunning upset once the votes come in (basically what happened to Howard Dean in 2004). And it’s possible he’ll do well in the early primaries. All those are plausible outcomes. But in that last case, I think that as the contest wears on and more and more other candidates drop out, it will become increasingly clear that he has a ceiling, and voters will consolidate between a candidate with less of one.

    The only question is whether he will have the stamina to stick in for the long haul. Many people forget that he flirted with a presidential run in the last cycle, and for a period of time (spring of 2011) he actually led many polls, until his support very suddenly collapsed following the humiliating White House dinner, the release of Obama’s long-form birth certificate, and the near-simultaneous announcement of Bin Laden’s death. And that’s when Trump announced he wasn’t going to run.

    If there’s one thing Trump seems to dislike, it’s being seen as a loser. And he’ll do anything to preempt that outcome.

  29. R Hugh Sirius says:

    As a younger man, Bill Clinton especially enjoyed “polling” all of the available female voters.