Perhaps a reflection of the public’s preference for brashness in today’s political climate, a new CNN poll places Donald Trump at the lead in the Republican presidential race at 18 per cent support among Republicans, with Jeb Bush coming in second at 15%. Despite his recent comments disparaging POW veteran John McCain, support for Trump has actually climbed by six points since June, all the while making headlines with his often controversial sound bites. No other candidates aside from Trump and Bush received double digit support in the poll, but Governor Scott Walker placed third with 9 per cent. Is all this an expression of Republicans’ actual desire for the candidate, or merely their vicarious venting of disgust with politicians in general?
With congressional approval ratings remaining near all-time lows, Trump’s lack of political experience could be seen as a positive as there is no record for anyone to criticize. His popularity among Republican voters isn’t translating to the remaining pool of registered voters because he currently trails both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in a hypothetical general election matchup by a wide margin. In contrast, Bush and Walker polled slightly behind Clinton and almost even with Sanders in a hypothetical matchup.
None of these polls may matter much, when in the 2012 presidential election only 28% of voters picked Mitt Romney as most likely to receive the Republican nomination, in a September 2011 CNN poll. For comparison, in the 2008 election, only 16 per cent of voters picked Obama as the most likely Democratic nominee in an October 2007 CNN poll, which would only rise to 38 per cent in a similar January 2008 poll, and finally to 57 per cent in the April 2008 poll.
Confirming this view, a majority of Republican voters currently state that they see it as too soon to decide on which candidate they prefer. Also prompting cautiousness in any attempt to forecast the chosen candidate, Trump’s unfavorable rating among all registered voters remains a very high 59 per cent, exceeding Hillary’s unfavorable rating of 49 per cent.
Part of the reason behind Trump’s higher unfavorable rating may be that he chooses to speak out when prompted on most issues, which may result in him taking unpopular positions. Hillary will frequently refrain from taking a position when first asked about an issue, perhaps to consult polling data on what her position should be.