NBC claims new poll shows "majority of Republicans prefer someone else to Trump" as nominee. But does it?

I think tense is important here. Here’s the headline to their story:


The used the same headline for a related tweet. A majority of Republicans now want to dump Trump at the convention? That’s big news! Lots of #NeverTrumpers on social media are sending it around excitedly.

Check the crosstabs of the poll, though, and you’ll find the question worded this way:

Are you satisfied that Donald Trump is the Republican nominee, or would you have preferred that the Republican Party nominated someone else?

They didn’t ask Republicans if they want to dump Trump now. They asked, essentially, whether they supported Trump in the primaries — or at least that’s how I would have understood that question. And whaddaya know: The 45 percent who say they’re satisfied with Trump as nominee exactly matches the share of the popular vote in the primaries that Trump received. The fact that a majority of the party preferred someone else initially is already well known. The question of the moment is whether they still prefer someone else now and are willing to risk convention chaos to have that. NBC didn’t ask.

In fact, this bit of data from their own survey captures how underwhelming this poll result is:


More Republicans are satisfied with Trump as nominee than were satisfied with McCain, whom no one seriously suggested might be ousted at the convention. What NBC’s actually showing here, whether they realize it or not, is how relatively uncontroversial Trump’s nomination is from the voters’ perspective. (Uncontroversial in breadth, I should say, but maybe not in depth. It could be that the 52 percent who preferred someone else to McCain objected less sharply to his nomination than the 52 percent who preferred someone else to Trump.) You can even go a step further: Since Trump’s popular vote totals were padded a bit by the fact that he won the last month of primaries uncontested, his “real share” of the popular vote, i.e. in contested primaries, is a bit lower than 45 percent. Which means some Republicans who opposed him in the primaries apparently are now “satisfied” with him as nominee despite his rough month.

And it has been rough:


These divisions from the NBC data are familiar to anyone who follows Republican polling on Trump but the degree of the split is noteworthy:

GOP attitudes about Trump break along ideological and educational lines. By a 53 percent-to-45 percent margin, conservative Republicans say they prefer a different nominee to Trump, while moderates are split 49 percent to 49 percent.

Maybe more tellingly, 58 percent of Republicans with a high-school education or less are satisfied with Trump as the party’s presumptive nominee, versus 60 percent of Republicans with a college degree who want someone else.

That college educated/uneducated schism makes for an uneasy coalition, but at least it’s not hurting the party down-ballot (yet). This same poll has the generic ballot for congressional races dead even at 46 for each party. That’s not the sort of result you’d expect if the GOP’s headed for a wipeout this fall. At this point in 2008, notes Amy Walter, Democrats led 52/33(!).

In lieu of an exit question, a scoop from CNN’s Jim Acosta. NBC asked its poll sample about Trump’s Muslim ban, incidentally. Result: 34 percent for, 49 percent against. No wonder he’s tweaking it.