Something to please everyone in today’s trifecta. The topline numbers:
It’s fair to conclude that Trump is still sitting on a solid lead of six to seven points with Carson firmly in second at around 17 percent. Fiorina did not, in fact, “cut his balls off” at the second debate, although she did help herself a bunch per her appearance in the top four of all three of today’s polls. He’s competitive with Hillary too in Quinnipiac’s head to head match-up, trailing her by just two points, 45/43. This bit from Fox News is good news for him as well, at least in the primary:
Straight talk is part of Trump’s outsider appeal — but does he go too far? Not for GOP primary voters: 65 percent of them say Trump just tells it like it is, compared to 30 percent who think he is “too mean and blunt” to be president. Trump’s style may be a liability in the general election, though. Overall, 49 percent of voters find him too mean and blunt, while 44 percent say we need his directness.
Support for “outsider” candidates is also still strong, with fully 62 percent of Republican voters claiming they feel “betrayed’ by their party in Fox’s survey and 72 percent of Americans telling Bloomberg that they don’t believe America is as great as it once was, the main theme of Trump’s campaign. There’s no reason to think from these numbers that his support is cracking.
There may be reason, though, to think that he’s hit his ceiling. Here’s the trendline in RCP’s poll average since the beginning of July, incorporating the data from today’s trifecta:
That blue line for Trump has dipped to where he was at the start of August. The last six polls taken before the September 16th debate had him at 28, 29, 30, 32, 33, and 27 points. He topped out in today’s at 26 and was as low as 21 percent in Bloomberg’s. More importantly, although his own numbers haven’t fallen sharply, his lead has shrunk across various surveys thanks to Ben Carson’s rise. In the August polls taken by Quinnipiac, Fox, and Bloomberg, he led by 16, 13, and 11 points, respectively. Today: 8, 8, and 5. The race has tightened, if perhaps only temporarily.
Some of the more specific metrics in these polls look gruesome for him too. Here’s what Quinnipiac found
He’s at 23/71 among Hispanics. They tested every candidate in the race on both sides and the only one whose net favorable rating was worse than Trump’s was Lindsey Graham, thanks to the fact that Republican voters don’t like him much more than Democrats do. Even pathological liar Hillary Clinton managed a 41/55 rating. In fact, when tested head to head against Trump, Bush, Carson, and Fiorina, the only one whom Hillary leads is — you guessed it — the Donald.
Two more data points touching on the candidate’s fitness to be president:
All of the other candidates tested on that question — Clinton, Biden, Sanders, Bush, Carson, and Fiorina — came out net positive, if only slightly in some cases. Trump was nearly 40 points underwater, and was slightly underwater even among Republicans. Another poor result:
Jeb Bush ended up at 67/27 on the same question. Ben Carson, whom Trump has knocked frequently as supposedly lacking the necessary experience to be president (he’s never managed anything, has no practice at dealmaking, etc), finished at a modest 36/41 rating by comparison. This is why Trump skeptics think he’s destined to fade as the race rolls on and people get more serious about the campaign. Right now, not enough people find him presidential.
One more bit of data for you, this time from Fox:
But what would happen if the “current front-runner” aka Trump were out? The Fox poll asks voters their second choice candidate, which allows us to look at what happens to the race if someone were to get out. For instance, if Trump gets out, Carson takes the top spot (24 percent), followed by Rubio (12 percent), Fiorina (11 percent), Cruz (11 percent) and Bush (10 percent).
Trump supporters go for Carson (23 percent), Bush (14 percent), Cruz (12 percent) and Rubio (10 percent) as their second-choice picks.
The idea that Ted Cruz is going to vacuum up most of Trump’s support once he’s gone simply isn’t true, although it may be true if Carson’s already gone by that point too. It could be that Trump’s fans who are tea partiers, evangelicals, and/or keen on electing a Washington outsider prefer Carson mildly to Cruz at this point. Once Carson fades, Cruz is well positioned.