Donald. Donald. Donald.
The number of times that name has been written and spoken in the past month has trumped – pun intended – the references to every other GOP presidential candidate in this election cycle. And now, I’m weighing in on The Donald.
I know, I know; it’s a bit hypocritical. Just bare with me for a moment. I hope this post (and the above video) will add something new for you to chew on.
Let’s start by looking at some poll results. Yesterday, results from a new Washington Post-ABC News poll were released and showed Trump was in the lead for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. The poll found 24 percent of registered Republicans and Republic-leaning independent favored Trump. The GOP candidate with the second highest percentage was Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker with 13 percent. Jeb Bush had 12 percent. The other candidates went down from there.
Several headlines read “Trump surges in poll” or some other variation of that statement Monday. I want to address that sentiment – that Trump is the leading GOP candidate.
First, the Washington Post explained most of the responses were collected prior to Trump making those remarks about John McCain on Saturday. “Support for Trump fell sharply on the one night that voters were surveyed following those comments,” the article read.
Second, it’s important to understand how this poll was conducted.Those conducting the poll randomly dialed landlines and cell phones and asked for the youngest adult man or woman at home. The interviewers then asked the respondents a list of questions. One of the questions asked to Republican and Republican-leaning voters was: If the 2016 Republican presidential primary or caucus in your state were being held today, for whom would you vote? Which candidate would you lean toward? The interviewer then read a list of the candidates. This was where 24 percent of the respondents said Trump.
Interviewers also asked respondents if they felt a candidate was too liberal, too conservative or just right. Respondents could also answer with “no opinion.” Nineteen percent of respondents said they had no opinion on Bush, and 23 percent said they had no opinion on Trump. The questions involving three other GOP candidates — Walker, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio — had 43 percent, 36 percent and 33 percent, respectively.
These results indicate name recognition likely played a large role in that question about for whom respondents would vote. After all, people are much less likely to say they would vote for a candidate of whom they have never heard. People know Donald Trump’s name, and he’s done a pretty good job of loudly and repeatedly proclaiming his beliefs. Even if a person doesn’t know where Trump stands on every issues, he or she still may say on a phone to a stranger that he or she will vote for Trump because he said something about an issues with which that person is supportive.
Trump’s ability to nab media and public attention is a problem that will become increasingly worse for other candidates. FiveThirtyEight put together a chart that showed Google New hits and Google searches for the GOP presidential candidates from June 14 to July 12. Trump soared above the others in both — 46 percent Google News hits and 62 percent Google searches. With Google News hits, Bush was the only other candidate who hit a double digit percentage. No other candidate hit double digits for Google searches. The same chart showed Betfair odds of the candidates winning the GOP nominations. Trump had only 5 percent, placing him in fifth place behind Bush, Walker, Rubio and John Kasich, who just announced his presidential campaign Tuesday.
Put simply, Trump is taking over media and public attention, but has a relatively slim chance of becoming the GOP presidential nomination. That Washington Post-ABC News poll showed 62 percent of respondents wouldn’t vote for Trump if he was nominated and 56 percent didn’t think Trump’s views reflect the core values of the Republican Party.
Other candidates who have a better chance of being nominated – like Walker and Rubio – are having a harder time introducing themselves to the public because Trump is hogging the national spotlight. It isespecially troublesome for a candidate like Walker because he and Trump both appeal to a similar crowd of conservative voters – Tea Party members, populists. Walker has done well on polls conducted in Iowa, where he has been able to meet with voters and explain his ideas. He has the political chops – look at his record in Wisconsin – but will he be able to trump Trump when it comes to grabbing the public’s attention?