We’ve all seen the polls showing Trump as the forerunner in the massive GOP field with around 20% support. It’s early. His name recognition is sky high. And with so many in the race, you can be a frontrunner with a big lead without a huge amount of support. But here’s a number that is genuinely a big deal.
We’ve assumed that Donald Trump is not only capped in a national race but also likely capped about where he is now in a GOP primary race because his negatives are so high and there are so many people who not only do not support him, but who would never support him under any circumstance.
But check out this number from the latest Monmoth poll. Monmouth has polled the evolving GOP primary in April, June and July. And over that period Donald Trump’s favorable ratings have gone from 28% to 52%, while his unfavorables have gone from 56% to 35%. To put that a different way he’s gone from a -28% net approval to a +17% net approval . In other words, that’s a 45 point shift in three months.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, pictured here in the so-called ‘Leisure suit of Strength’
It’s one of the truisms of politics that high negatives are close to impossible to change, especially if you’re a well known person. While new (negative) facts can drive your numbers down, it’s very hard to find ones that drive them back up. Like many truisms, this one is bogus. It’s difficult to recover from high negatives. But it happens all the time. That said, this is a massive, massive shift, especially for someone who is extremely well-known to the public and must have very high name recognition numbers. One might also add that it is a remarkable move over the course of a period in which Trump has marching around like a clown leveling racial slurs at whole nationalities. But that’s a more subjective judgment.
At least according to these Monmouth numbers, Republican voters’ perceptions of Trump are roughly on par with one time frontrunner Jeb Bush. His unfavorables are much higher than Rubio’s and Walker’s. But his favorables are also higher than Walker’s.
Don’t get me wrong. I still think it is exceedingly unlikely that Trump will win the nomination. But these numbers really upend any idea that Trump is already maxed out – that he’s leading at 20% or more but can never go higher. And it’s hard to come up with a scenario where he leaves the race any time soon or really at any time before someone clearly beats him with actual delegates. He can easily self-fund. He has a massive ego which much be firing on insane amounts of dopamine with all this attention and adulation. Why would he ever leave the race?
This isn’t just a summer fling. I see no reason why he won’t be dominating the GOP race for some time.