Donald Trump took over the solo lead in the Real Clear Politics polling average on July 20th for the first time. Except for November 5-6, when he fell behind Ben Carson by a point, he has been the leader ever since. That lead has now lasted a dominant 134 consecutive days.
That’s the good news for Trump. Now, here’s the bad news.
Despite being the overwhelmingly perceived frontrunner for 134 consecutive days, and the documented dramatic advantage in media coverage he has received as a result of that, other than September 14th-19th he has never been above 30% in the RCP average. And those days it was only by a few decimal points.
So, yes, he has remarkable consistency and staying power. He appears to have a base that isn’t going anywhere despite all the media attempts to smear him, as well as his own self-inflicted foibles. On November 2nd, Trump was at 26.6% in the RCP polling average. Today, December 2nd, he’s at 28.3. That’s very little movement over the last 30 days. In fact. that’s very little movement over the last quarter. Trump’s floor is high, but his ceiling is low. He likely has the support he’s going to have.
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Here’s what this means.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, which is almost always wrong, there is actually very little cross-over between Trump’s voters and the other current top candidates. Especially when you consider but for a few days in March, Jeb Bush was the RCP polling leader from January 1st until July 20th, when Trump took over. Huckabee, Walker, and Rubio all polled second to Jeb for a time in the first part of the year, but he was the unquestioned leader. And as Trump has gone up, it is Jeb who has suffered the worst.
Sure, when you’re the leader for 134 straight days, you’re taking somebody from everybody. If Trump were to drop out, I think they would scatter among several candidates other than Rubio, because he’s pro-amnesty. Furthermore, the internal polling has shown repeatedly Trump does best among the most moderate-to-liberal GOP voters. On the other hand, when your support is locked in like Trump’s you’re not going to drop out anyway, so even discussing it at all is foolish.
Other than that, Trump cannot be quantified because he’s really a third party candidate running in a partisan primary. Therefore, he’s attracting a motley crew of ideological factions who have come together to “burn it down” French Revolution style. In other words, to hand a treacherous and feckless GOP the mob justice it certainly deserves.
If you don’t want the mob justice of the French Revolution, and prefer an American Revolution-style revolt led by values as opposed to vigilantism instead, going after Trump is EXACTLY THE WRONG WAY TO GO ABOUT IT. Repeat: GOING AFTER TRUMP IS EXACTLY THE WRONG WAY TO GO ABOUT IT.
There is a reason every candidate that has gone after Trump has seen his own support erode/eliminated, and Trump more Teflon. It’s because as I said months ago, voters want somebody to top Trump, not try and topple him. And, as I also said this summer, Trump is the John Brown of the GOP Civil War. He will only be beaten when an Abraham Lincoln arises who offers a similar paradigm shift minus the collateral damage.
70-75% of GOP primary voters do not want Trump as their nominee, and those are your target voters. Trump’s voters aren’t going anywhere no matter what he does. He could change his campaign logo to a pentagram, make fart noises with his armpits during debates, and openly profess his desire for carnal knowledge of farm animals and it won’t matter.
The Quisling GOP itself has created this voting bloc, and they’re just looking for somebody crazy enough to strike the match. Thus, the more cra-cra The Donald gets, the louder the mob cheers. Trump knows this and is actually much more thoughtful than what he’s shown on the stump. However, he realizes thoughtful isn’t what his audience wants, and a good businessman knows the customer is always right. The showman is delivering the desired performance.
Conclusion: only a candidate capable of coalescing the remaining GOP primary electorate is going to top Trump, by building a support base that can eclipse 30% overall. And that process has to begin in Iowa. Because if you can’t beat Trump in Iowa in an activist-driven caucus dominated by evangelicals, you probably can’t beat him anywhere else that it matters.
The larger GOP base needs to take a deep breath and realize where this is headed these last 60 days. With Carson’s fade there are only three possible outcomes now:
1) Trump’s French Revolution.
2) Cruz’s American Revolution.
3) Rubio as a better messaging, more likable George W. Bush rebrand.
You make the call.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.