Donald Trump is roiling the Republican Party, as he attacks not only President Obama but any Republican who is a potential competitor or who has the temerity to question his credentials. Trump has shot up to the top of the latest Public Policy Polling survey of Republican primary voters, leading the pack by more than a few points.
Every month, PPP polls Republican primary voters nationwide about their preferences for the GOP presidential nomination. Almost every month, the top four candidates have been in a statistical tie, with various candidates jockeying back and forth for slim leads. But for the first time in three months, when Mike Huckabee had a tenpoint lead over Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin, PPP has found a candidate who puts serious distance between himself and the rest of the field: Donald Trump.
Trump leads with 26% over Huckabee’s 17%, Romney’s 15%, Newt Gingrich’s 11%, Palin’s 8%, Ron Paul’s 5%, and Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann’s 4%.
Trump by 11% over Mitt Romney, who he described as a “small businessman” who certainly could not match the “size” of the Trump net worth. Well the Republicans are getting a little antsy over their new front-runner, with Krauthammer calling him a “clown” and comparing him to Al Sharpton, and Eric Cantor weighing in by saying Trump was not “serious” about the race. Even Karl Rove dismissed Trump as representative of the “nutty right”. Gee, is that any way to treat the Republican front-runner????? Naturally Trump has fired back, hitting Rove as the man (along with George W. Bush) who gave us President Obama, and spraying rhetorical fire all over Cantor and Romney.
Rove’s description of the birther issue as representing the “nutty right” should be accurate. But is it? Rove and others have described “birthers” as a small fringe group in the Republican Party. But the PPP
polling data seems to show something quite different.
23% of these voters say they would not be willing to vote for a candidate who stated clearly that Obama was born in the U.S. 38% say they would, and a 39% plurality are not sure
So the poll numbers show 62% of Republican voters potentially unable to vote for a candidate who acknowledges President Obama as having been born in this country. That does not seem like a small fringe movement in the Republican Party to me. Seems that a “birther” like Trump would be pretty mainstream in that group. And therein lies the real problem for Republican candidates. They need to win Republican primaries, but in so doing they will be in a very difficult position in the general election, as President Obama can watch as they are forced to espouse positions that are not even close to mainstream. And tacking back to the center in the general election is just going to be so difficult after coming through these primaries. Romney’s attempt to be “adult” should show you the depth of the problem. He is being adult by shutting up and not saying a word, except for pablum. For those who might expect Romney to actually condemn birthers, or take a responsible position on fiscal matters, think again. It would be his ticket to oblivion. Doubts about that? Read that 62% number above again, and then tell me how responsible he should be? Bring on “the Donald”, who seems to represent Republican voters more than senior Republicans want to admit.