And in New Hampshire too, don’t forget, per the last couple of polls there. It’s officially a Trump boomlet! Except … as I reminded you the last time we talked Trump polls, there was actually a brief Trump boomlet in 2011 too, back when he was doing his quadrennial tease about running for president. And his numbers then, albeit against a weaker field, were rosier than they are now: He was at 27 percent in one national poll in April of that year and 21 percent in NH.
So the good news, if you’re worried about him, is that this isn’t the strongest Trump has looked in a GOP primary. The bad news is that he’s going to hang around for awhile this time and will almost certainly do more to help himself at the debates pushing populism at protest voters than he will to hurt himself. Where that leaves the race circa October, God only knows. The national numbers from CNN:
My guess was that the Trump boom would come mainly at the expense of grassroots conservative favorites like Cruz, not because Trump is any way a serious conservative alternative but because his whole shtick is that he’s waging war on the Beltway establishment generally and the GOP establishment in particular. And it’s true, Cruz’s numbers have sunk since Trump jumped in. (Cruz is hoping to win back those voters eventually by playing nice with Trump in the media.) He’s not the biggest loser here, though: That would be Marco Rubio, who’s down eight points in less than a month. That may not be entirely Trump’s doing. Maybe Rubio’s post-announcement bounce faded, or maybe it’s Jeb who’s cannibalizing his votes (note that Bush is up six points in June as well), a much more ominous sign than the Trump boomlet if you’re on Team “Anyone But Bush.” But here’s an interesting tidbit from CNN:
[A]mong voters age 50 or older, 14% support Bush and 14% back Trump. By contrast, among Republicans under age 50, Bush is the only candidate in double-digits with 23%, Trump has just 9% support. And moderate or liberal Republicans back Bush over Trump 27% to 10%.
Trump’s competitiveness among those older and more conservative Republicans also helps explain Walker’s and Rubio’s declines. In April, 16% of Republicans age 50 or older backed Rubio, 14% Walker. Now, Rubio has just 6% among this group and Walker has 7%. Trump grew from 2% in May to 14% now.
No Republican has been as consistently strong among older voters in the early primary polls as Rubio. His favorable rating across the party is excellent but his favorables among senior citizens have been stratospheric. They were the one group more than any other who were carrying him towards the top of the field. Now that support has receded, apparently thanks to Trump. The same thing is happening to Walker, but to a lesser degree. Why a 65+ voter would abandon the young Latino professional politician from Florida for the obnoxious older business tycoon from New York is … not obvious, unless it’s a matter of pure name recognition. But Trump’s name recognition is strong among all ages thanks to “The Apprentice.” Why is it seniors who seem especially drawn to him?
As for the new Iowa poll from Quinnipiac, who’s suffering the most from Trump’s entry here?
Huckabee’s down six points and Paul’s down four. Both are self-styled anti-establishmentarians so it’s obvious why Trump is costing them. But there’s Rubio taking another hit, down six points himself. How come? Are seniors in Iowa also gravitating away from him and towards Trump, and if so, why? The best I can do for a theory is to guess that seniors see each man’s story as typically all-American, albeit in different ways, but that they may prefer Trump on balance because he’s more of a known quantity and they respect his managerial experience more than they do Rubio’s. Even so, given the huge spread in how favorably they’re viewed by Iowa Republicans generally, that’s hard to swallow. Trump’s favorable rating is 42/47; Rubio’s is 60/13. How’s the very popular guy shedding votes to the guy no one much likes? (Then again, to put Trump’s numbers in perspective, Chris Christie’s favorable rating in Iowa is … 25/59. No typo.)
In lieu of an exit question, here’s a parting thought from CNN: Head to head, Hillary leads Trump 59/34. By that standard, he’s the least electable candidate. The most electable is Jeb Bush, who trails Hillary by “just” 13 points. If you want to be truly depressed about something in these polls, let that be it.