This poll feels more ominous in what it says about Trump’s chances than the Bloomberg poll yesterday. National polls will bounce up and down over the next five months, but if even a major terror attack can’t get voters to take a second look at the would-be strongman, what’ll it take? Trump’s image is so horribly poor among the general electorate that he can’t win without convincing voters to give him a second look. If a jihadi shooting up a nightclub while Trump is demanding a ban on Muslims abroad doesn’t do it, maybe nothing’s going to do it.
Eh, who am I kidding? He’ll get a 10-point bounce overnight when he flies into the arena for his nomination acceptance speech on a jetpack.
Democrats split 62/13 on Hillary’s response but Republicans split just 50/26 on Trump’s. That’s one reason why his numbers are so much worse than hers here. Another is independents: They’re mildly disapproving of how Hillary’s responded (27/36) but strongly disapproving of Trump’s response, with 20 percent in favor and 51 percent opposed. One big problem for Trump is that the Muslim ban that’s supposed to make him more appealing to voters when the public feels anxious about terrorism has seemingly backfired. When Bloomberg asked likely voters how they feel about the ban, 51 percent said it bothers them a lot and another 15 percent said it bothers them a little. When CBS put the same question to adults generally on Monday and Tuesday of this week, in the almost immediate aftermath of mass murder by a jihadi, they got this:
That independent split is especially poor given that indies are a potentially natural fit for an unorthodox “radical centrist” like Trump. The ban was a fine idea for a Republican primary electorate with lots of reactionaries, not so fine for a general electorate. Hard to believe at this rate that he won’t end up ditching it at some point before November.
As for why the attack might not be lifting him politically, Wonkblog has an interesting theory based on observations of Israeli elections. Namely, terrorism may do less to drive voters to the right than it does to polarize them, galvanizing people on each side to support the parties they were already inclined to support. I’m not sure how that squares with America’s elections in 2002 and 2004, when the GOP clearly benefited from 9/11 fallout, but if it’s true then Orlando might go a long way towards bringing some Bernie Sanders fans around to Hillary. If terrorism polarizes voters then the average lefty whose focus has suddenly shifted from redistribution to counterterrorism may conclude that Clinton simply must be elected in order to stop Trump from imposing his ban. If that’s what’s going on, Hillary’s national lead should be pretty comfortable within a week or two. If that’s not what’s going on, maybe there’s a post-Orlando bump for Trump on the way.
In the meantime, though:
The @realDonaldTrump effect: at 30 points net negative, the ratings for the GOP haven't been this bad since Feb 2014 pic.twitter.com/KzEGPe6gp5
— Geoff Garin (@geoffgarin) June 15, 2016
Gulp. Dan McLaughlin looked at national polling over the past three presidential cycles to see how low Bush, McCain, and Romney went in their head-to-head match-ups with the Democratic nominee. Once the primaries were over, not one of them ever dropped below 40 percent. McCain got close at 40.3 but began to climb after that and never looked back. Trump’s RCP average as I write this is 38.6 percent. Double gulp. And one other note from the CBS poll: Obama’s response to the Orlando attack currently enjoys a 44/34 split among adults. It’s too early to say if those numbers will hold since this poll was nearly over by the time O gave his statement yesterday, but it’s probably a safe assumption that the better the public feels about O’s reaction, the worse they’re going to feel about Trump’s.
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