What differentiates Trump’s leadership from previous primary favorites? | ET REALITY


Another week, another set of polls show Donald Trump with a huge lead over his opponents for the Republican presidential nomination. And an analysis of the numbers shows that the former president’s lead may be longer lasting than what the leading presidential candidates have enjoyed in past summers.

Quinnipiac’s latest national poll puts Republican support for Trump at 62%, 50 points ahead of his closest enemy, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. TO New Washington Post/Monmouth poll The state of South Carolina, the first in the South’s primary, has Trump at 46%, with former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley a distant second at 18%. That lead is even more imposing considering that both Haley and Sen. Tim Scott, also of South Carolina, have won multiple elections there. And yet, their combined percentage of support in the South Carolina poll (28%) is just over half that of Trump’s.

For now, there is nothing new or particularly surprising about figures like these. Since April, Trump has consistently won more than 50% of the national rolling averages in polls and has established a formidable lead in key early states. Our own NBC News/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll, for example, gave Trump a 42% to 19% lead over DeSantis in Iowa last month.

It’s been a while since a non-incumbent Republican candidate enjoyed such a large and sustained poll lead at this point in the campaign. To find a parallel, you have to go back to the fall of 1999, when then-Texas Governor George W. Bush had similar advantages to Trump nationally and in the early states.

Bush, of course, won the nomination, although not without a real scare. He ended up getting crushed in New Hampshire by John McCain before surviving a decisive battle with McCain in South Carolina, only to turn around and suffer a stunning defeat in Michigan, and then eventually steady the ship enough to win a series of big states on Super Tuesday and force McCain to surrender.

In other words, what in the fall of 1999 seemed like a gliding path to the GOP nomination turned into a painful and politically costly primary battle for Bush, a battle that arguably damaged his image among general election voters and it almost cost him his life in what ended up being a very close victory over Democrat Al Gore.

So on the surface, the case of Bush and the 2000 Republican primaries offers a glimmer of hope to Trump’s rivals, who are looking at polls that seem as dire to them now as they did to Bush’s enemies at this point in the year. year 2000. cycle.

But within the numbers is a key difference, one that suggests Trump may be much less vulnerable to the kind of slip-up that Bush ultimately suffered.

It has to do with how many Republican voters tell pollsters that they have already made up their minds and definitely plan to vote for the candidate they now support. That’s where we see significant differences between Trump’s position now and Bush’s in the fall of 1999.

Let’s start with the national surveys. This week’s Quinnipiac poll has Trump at 62%, DeSantis at 12% and the rest of the field in single digits.

TO CNN/SSRS national poll last week That found a similar, though not as overwhelming, Trump lead, with him 52% to DeSantis’ 18% ahead of the single-digit brigade.

Again, these are just two recent polls, but they are consistent with what national polls have been showing for some time. Now, let’s compare this to what the GOP race was like nationally in the fall of 1999, according to a CBS/New York Times poll from that time: Bush had 63%, while McCain was closest to him with 14%, with Steve Forbes. and Alan Keyes behind him.

You can see how similar Trump and Bush’s advantages appear to be. But this is where the level of commitment of your supporters comes into play. In this week’s Quinnipiac poll, 68% of Trump supporters say they are “firmly committed to Trump no matter what happens before the Republican primary.” Similarly, in the CNN/SSRS poll, 85% of Trump supporters say they will “definitely” support him.

But with Bush in 1999 the story was different. In that CBS/New York Times poll, only 43% of his supporters said they were decided.

The same trend also appears in the first state surveys. As mentioned, our recent NBC News/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll gave Trump a 42%-19% lead over DeSantis in Iowa, with no other Republicans in double digits. In that poll, 67% of Trump supporters said they had already made up their minds.

By contrast, in the fall of 1999, the Register poll had Bush ahead of Steve Forbes 49% to 20%, with McCain at 8% and Gary Bauer at 7%. But only 42% of Bush supporters said they had made up their minds.

In New Hampshire, where recent high-quality surveys have been scarce, there is a July University of New Hampshire Poll that put Trump ahead of DeSantis by 37% to 23%. It also found that 76 percent of Trump supporters said they would definitely vote for him.

In 1999, Bush—like Trump now—was not polling as well in New Hampshire as he was elsewhere. He led McCain 41% to 28% in a fall Quinnipiac poll of the state. But only 35% of Bush supporters in that poll said they were decided. That soft level of compromise helps explain why Bush proved so vulnerable in the state and ended up losing by 20 points to McCain.

This is what makes Trump’s lead in the new South Carolina poll that much more surprising. Not only is she crushing both a “favorite daughter” candidate, Haley, and a “favorite son” candidate, Scott, but she also enjoys a deep and unmatched level of engagement, with 76 percent of current supporters who say they will definitely vote for him.

We are facing a unique set of circumstances in the current Republican race. Yes, we’ve seen leaders with Trump-sized advantages before; In addition to Bush in 2000, there was also Bob Dole in the 1996 cycle. But neither Bush nor Dole enjoyed anywhere near the level of commitment that Trump seems to demand from his supporters.

If these Trump supporters mean what they say, then he has already secured the vast majority of the support he now receives in the polls. What’s more, even among those who now disagree with him, Trump remains quite popular, with favorability ratings in polls. usually the strongest or almost the strongest among the Republican camp. It’s just as easy (or perhaps even easier) to imagine Trump’s support expanding further rather than evaporating.

Twenty-four years ago, the path that polls suggested Bush was following turned out to be a mirage, and he ended up having to claw and claw his way to the Republican Party presidential nomination. But with Trump, it may not be a mirage at all.

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