If you don’t like Trump, console yourself with the fact that no other poll of New Hampshire has showed him this far ahead. However, a Gravis poll of the state taken earlier this month had similar numbers — Trump 32, Kasich 15 — so there’s reason to think this isn’t an outlier. What’s more, PPP found Bernie Sanders leading Hillary 42/35 in this same survey, which is strikingly similar to what the Boston Herald found two weeks ago (Sanders 44, Clinton 37).
Of course, that same Herald poll found Trump at just 18 percent in the state, barely more than half of where PPP has him today. Maybe this really is an outlier. Or maybe Trumpmania is spreading.
Trump’s advantage over the Republican field is thorough. He leads with Tea Party voters (44%), men (39%), independents (36%), conservatives (36%), voters who are most concerned about electability (35%), both younger voters and seniors (at 34% with each), evangelicals (32%), women (30%), and moderates (29%). Trump has a 56/32 favorability rating and he also leads when you match him with the other Republican hopefuls head to head- it’s 47/39 over Ben Carson, 53/35 over Scott Walker, 53/34 over Marco Rubio, and 56/33 over Jeb Bush…
Bush is really struggling. Only 38% of primary voters have a favorable opinion of him to 41% with a negative one. This is largely a function of his unpopularity with conservatives- among voters who identify themselves as ‘very conservative’ just 34% have a positive opinion of him to 48% who have a negative one. Only 3% say he’s their first choice for the nomination, putting him in a tie for 8th place with that group.
The most striking data there is the head-to-head numbers. A PPP poll of North Carolina recently found Trump trailing Walker, Rubio, and Carson in individual match-ups (although, notably, leading Jeb Bush). That was a bad sign for Trump’s chances at the nomination since, if he hangs around the race long enough, it’ll eventually evolve into a “Trump or the other guy?” question for Republican voters. North Carolinians prefer the other guy right now, so long as he isn’t named “Bush.” Not New Hampshirites, though: Trump is crushing all of his biggest rivals head to head here. And the fascinating thing, if you peek into the crosstabs, is that he’s doing it despite being disfavored by supporters of all the other candidates. Here’s what his match-up with Rubio looks like, just as an example. Click to enlarge:
If you force Scott Walker’s supporters to choose between Rubio and Trump, they’ll take Rubio. Ben Carson’s supporters? Rubio. Ted Cruz’s? Rubio. Jeb Bush’s? Rubio (narrowly). Rand Paul’s? Rubio overwhelmingly, even though Rubio’s aggressively interventionist foreign policy is anathema to Paulworld. Across the board, among nearly every candidate’s voting bloc, Rubio is the preferred choice to Trump. But it doesn’t matter. There are so many more Trump voters out there that Trump wins the overall head-to-head match-up handily even though his opponent beats him consistently among voters currently committed to other candidates. The same holds true in hypothetical contests between Trump and Ben Carson and Trump and Scott Walker. Even Jeb Bush manages to top Trump among most other candidates’ voting blocs. None of them, though, are winning those blocs so overwhelmingly as to offset the huge number of voters who are backing Trump. Right now, the donor class is reassuring itself about him by speculating that he’ll either fade sooner or later or that, as the field winnows, they’ll be able to unite behind a more electable alternative who can consolidate “anyone but Trump” voters and sweep to the nomination. The terrifying warning for them in this poll is that that might not be so easy. Trump might stockpile enough support that the “Not Trump” candidate would have to completely crush him among undecideds to overtake him. How likely is it that that’ll happen if Trump’s appealing to enough of the primary electorate to put together a lead like this?
As noted in the excerpt, he’s not doing it with just one subgroup either. Head to head, among evangelicals, he defeats Rubio, Bush, and Walker. Only Ben Carson tops him. Among people who say they’re more concerned with nominating someone who has the best chance of beating the Democrat in the general election — i.e. electability — than someone who’s the most conservative on the issues, Trump crushes Rubio, Bush, Walker, and Carson head to head, winning all four match-ups by double digits and beating Bush by an amazing 26 points. That’s a brutal reality for Jeb given that New Hampshire is his must-win early state; if voters there think Donald Trump is vastly more electable than he is, presumably because of the baggage that comes with Bush’s surname, then he’s done. On the other hand, Trump also wins all four match-ups among voters who say they’re more concerned with nominating the person who’s most conservative on the issues, an implausible result given Trump’s many ideological heresies. He beats Rubio in that metric by 16 points head to head(!), which can only be explained by their differences on immigration, I think. Either immigration is weighing very heavily on New Hampshire primary voters or voters are mistakenly assuming that Trump is a staunch conservative on policy issues across the board simply because he’s loudly hawkish about the border. Either way, if you’re a Trump skeptic, the fact that he’s beating Scott Walker among people who want the most conservative candidate should give you hope that Trump’s lead here is ephemeral. The attack ads educating people about his liberal record will come fast and furious this fall. So, in fact, will the attack ads pointing out all the outre things he’s said in the past, which will affect perceptions of his electability. The money question about Trumpmania is how much of it is based on fully informed populism, i.e. people who love Trump warts and all, and how much is based on low information, i.e. people who’ve heard nothing more about him than “The Apprentice” and the fact that he’s been pounding the table about closing the border. We’ll know in a few months.
Exit question via Gallup: You really think the donor class is going to be dragged into battle against Hillary (or Biden) behind a guy with numbers like this?
Update: Similar results from South Carolina courtesy of Monmouth: Trump 30, Carson 15, Bush 9. Ted Cruz, who’s hoping/expecting SC will launch him to supremacy in the south, is plodding along at five percent. How come? Because Trump’s monopolizing his voters, for now.
Ideology – Trump wins very conservative (33%), somewhat conservative (31%) and moderate to liberal (23%) voters. Carson (21%) and Cruz (10%) take 2nd and 3rd place among very conservative voters. Carson and Bush are in the next tier among both somewhat conservative voters (13% and 11%, respectively) and moderate to liberal voters (10% and 14%, respectively).
Evangelicals – Nearly two-thirds of the GOP primary electorate in South Carolina call themselves evangelical Christians. This group backs Trump (33%) over Carson (18%).
Tea Party – Tea Party supporters back Trump (33%), with Carson (19%) and Cruz (9%) trailing. Non-Tea Party voters also back Trump (28%), followed by Bush (13%) and Carson (12%).
Donald Trump: The very conservative, evangelical, tea-party choice.