Good catch by my pal Karl: If you look at RCP’s poll round-up, you’ll see that most national surveys lately fall into two groups. One group has Trump up by just three or four points, the other has him up 11 or 12. What’s interesting about this new one from Monmouth is that it shows him breaking through the higher of those two ceilings, to the point where he’s now topping Jeb Bush by a margin of better than two to one.
Which raises an important question: Who will be President Trump’s VP?
See now why Team Jeb thinks Trump has frozen the rest of the field? Over the past month, the only candidate besides him who’s improved meaningfully is Scott Walker, up a modest four points. Rubio’s spinning his wheels. Ted Cruz, who’d probably benefit the most with Trump out of the race, has dropped three points to six percent. It’s not just tea partiers who are boosting Trump up, though; one of the striking things about this poll is that his support is coming from across the party.
Ideology – Trump leads Walker 27% to 16% among very conservative voters; has 22% support among somewhat conservative voters to 14% for Bush and 12% for Walker; and takes 28% of the moderate to liberal voter compared to 20% for Bush.
Tea Party – Tea Party supporters back Trump (35%) over Walker (15%) and Cruz (11%). Non-Tea Party supporters split their top support between Trump (20%) and Bush (16%).
Nearly identical numbers among “very conservative” and moderate/liberal Republicans. Huh. Also nearly identical are his and Jeb Bush’s favorable ratings. Before Trump got in the race, Republicans rated him just 20/55 in favorability. A few months later he’s at 52/35, with Bush at 52/30. That’s not supposed to happen with someone as famous as Trump since people have had decades to form an opinion about him. If you’re widely disliked with near universal name recognition, adding 30 points to your favorable rating in a matter of months usually would require something on the order of racing into a burning orphanage and saving a bunch of children. (At this very moment, Hillary Clinton’s on standby in Iowa just in case any reports of burning orphanages come in.) Trump managed to do it by … I’m not sure how, exactly. Choose your own theory. Maybe his turnaround proves how potent hawkishness on immigration remains across the GOP, notwithstanding the best efforts of its pro-amnesty leadership to shape opinion to the contrary. Or maybe it’s evidence of how ravenous the public’s appetite is, even among moderate Republicans, for a protest vote against the political class. Or maybe it’s a matter of pure media conditioning, with the great mass of low-information voters responding to pollsters Pavlov-style after hearing the word “Trump” on the nightly news every eight seconds for the past six weeks. Trump had better hope it’s one (or both) of those first two theories and not the third. Low-information voters are the least likely to show up on election day.
One more interesting bit from this poll: It’s in line with the RCP average on which candidates are likely to miss the main debate on Thursday night. Until now it’s been Christie and Kasich who are the last men in and Perry, Jindal, and Santorum who are the first men out. These numbers should solidify that. Not that it matters terribly: One of the great ironies of the primary is that, with such a large field, it looked like the first debate would be a chaotic war of all against all to grab voters’ attention. Instead, thanks to Trumpmania, it’ll be a battle of one ultra-famous guy against a bunch of comparatively faceless politicians. The “big” field, for now at least, is just Trump vs. Bush. vs. The Rest.