Trump cites Japanese-American internment camps as precedent for his proposal–polls updated December 12
December 12 UPDATE–CBS released their national poll that more or less confirmed the CNN poll results cited below. Therefore, we can remove the outlier label from the latter poll. Two polls now have Trump’s national numbers in the mid-thirties–a significant threshold, if he maintains those numbers. It should be noted that CBS finished their polling before Trump’s controversial proposal to prevent all Muslims from entering the country. So we haven’t yet seen the effect of the immediate and widespread criticism of Trump and his latest proposal. More on that below, it is worth noting that Trump hotels and buildings in Dubai and other of our allied Islamic countries have removed his name from the properties, and they have banned sales of Trump’s branded merchandise. So much for him being the great unifier who will get moderate Islamic countries to do the ground fighting in Syria against ISIS. Trump is oft likened to the far Right Le Pen, in France, who today added her voice to those who are rejecting Trump’s ideas. Add former British P.M. Cameron to that list, which is growing by the minute. Back to the new poll results, from the data presented below, showing Cruz now leading Trump in Iowa, it now is apparent that there is a divergence between the national polls and those for Iowa, the first Republican election. Is this just a unique result reflecting Iowa’s Republican electorate’s extreme conservative and evangelical Christian character? Unlikely, since that character has been the same even as Trump’s support has dwindled, and Cruz’ has increased. The change reflects less favorable views of Donald Trump as election campaigning increases and the electorate get more exposure to the candidates. Meanwhile, the prestigious Des Moines Register poll is due out shortly. Trump, fearing a poor result, predictably has started attacking the credibility of that highly regarded paper. It is so well regarded by Iowans that Trump’s insulting attack may well backfire.
Most polls have shown Trump leading comfortably in New Hampshire. A less well-known poll by Adrian Gray Consulting, shows that while Trump still leads his closest rival, Marco Runio, in N.H. by 4 pts, when the list of respondents is narrowed down to “likely GOP voters,” Rubio moves up to within 1 point. This too was finished just before Trump’s ‘no entry for Muslims” policy statement. How one wonders can he still be leading in the polls? A homiletic side-bar: At a dinner last night, two of the diners amazed by by not having heard of the San Bernardino killings OR of Trump’s ‘no admission’ proposal. It reminded me of how atypical those of us who watch the news on television are. Nielson ratings for news programs are notoriously low, and how, because of that, there usually is a time gap between events of significance and the widespread dissemination of news about them. We may have to wait a bit to judge the effect on the electorate of Trump’s proposal–and the condemnation by nearly all Republicans of it.
The other new event is the report overnight to the effect that Republican Party professionals were making preparations for a brokered convention. Dr. Carson responded today by threatening to leave the party should the report prove true.
Now for the main post, published December 9.
Once again Donald Trump’s mouth has spewed hate, produced the logical umbrage–this time on the part of virtually all (notably excepting Ted Cruz) prominent Republicans, as well as Democrats and many world leaders. When held to task for his own words, Trump, who exhibits all of the classic traits of a bully, inveighs his usual, not very veiled, threats to “get even.” In this case, to no one’s surprise, ‘getting even’ is his threat to run as an independent. For anyone who follows politics closely, such an action, by drawing some Republicans away from the actual Republican nominee, is assumed will insure a Democratic victory in November’s general election. Trump has held this as a club over the Republican establishment all fall. This despite his pledge to support the Republican nominee should he lose. I doubt that many are surprised at how fragile his promise is, and it’s a threat that has teeth. Trump claims that 68 percent of his supporters would follow him if he left the Republican party to chance a third party run. Who exactly are these followers who would place fealty to Donald above party loyalty, and how many of them could be expected to actually vote in a party caucus, primary, or even the general election? This is the key question and one that is difficult to answer. Assumptions about the answer to that question are all over the place–and, in part, at least, explains the large differences in poll results when it comes to Trump support. More on this in a moment. Just in case any readers of this blog missed this last Trump bruhaha, here’s a summarization: On Monday, December 7, in his campaign’s own words, Donald Trump argued for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” Later, in the face of widespread rejection of his position, Donald, as usual, doubled down. As precedent, he cited Franklin Roosevelt’s rounding up of Japanese-Americans, and herding them into concentration camps, in the early days of World War II. Never mind that said internment is generally considered one of the most reprehensible actions in our country’s history–or that courts have since found it unconstitutional. Response to Trump’s proposal was swift and almost unanimously negative. Trump’s proposal was called ‘fascist,’ ‘unamerican,’ and even “playing into the hands of ISIS.” Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer called it “truly, deeply bigoted.” Even former Vice-President Dick Cheney, who usually reserves his contumely for Democrats, reacted that “this whole notion that somehow we need to say no more Muslims and just ban a whole religion goes against everything we stand for and believe in…” Republicans, including the head of the Republican National Committee, newly elected Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, former Republican presidential candidate, Mitch Romney, were all horrified, and quickly sought to distance their party from Trump’s outrageous proposal. Some prominent Republicans urged Trump to quit the race for the party’s nomination. Trump acknowledged the criticism, but told a cheering crowd of his supporters, “I. Don’t. Care.” Obviously he did, however. Uttering his oft heard demand for Republicans to be “nice to me,” or suffer the consequences, he raised the specter of running as a third party candidate.
It’s too soon to have polls that show how Trump’s behavior will be interpreted by the Republican electorate. In the past, no matter how outrageous and insulting his statements have been, even following his call to “take out their families,” referring to the families of terrorists, Trump’s core support of around 25 percent has remained constant. Given the rise and then fall of Dr. Ben Carson’s star, and the failure of any of the mainstream Republican candidates to make a big move up, Trump’s lead over his closest rivals, Cruz, Rubio and Carson, has held at around 10 percentage points in national polls, though the size of Trump’s Republican primary support is uncertain. This past week, CNN found that Trump’s numbers rose to 36 percent, while the PPP and Monmouth polls showed it stable at 27 percent. Two recent Iowa state polls’ variances illustrate how difficult it is to measure Donald Trump’s support. CNN had Trump on top of the field of hopefuls with 33 percent. Cruz was his closest rival in Iowa with 20 percent. Monmouth, on the other hand, had Cruz, who had moved to within 2 points of Trump in Quinnipiac’s poll on November 24, now leading Trump 24 percent to 19 percent, with Rubio close behind at 17 percent.
Why the difference in poll results? It boils down to differing assumptions about whom the likely voters will be. In Iowa, it is possible for an Independent, or even somebody who has no recent history of voting at all, to vote in the Republican caucus. We know from deeper poll analysis that Trump did well in Iowa with respondents who identified themselves as ‘Very Conservative’ as well as those who self-identified as moderate/liberal Republicans. This anomaly is assumed to reflect more of Trump’s appeal to the anti-establishment politics vote–and that dimension trumped ideology for those voters. Trump also benefited from some voters attracted to him as a strong leader, a dimension that rises in importance in times of fear of terrorism. We also know that he garners more support from the less educated. The real question is how many of his non-regular voting supporters will actually take the time to qualify and actually go to precinct caucuses in Iowa. Historically polls give greater weight to respondents with a recent history of voting higher. In fact, some polls only use respondents who voted in the past presidential elections. These weightings are based on a long history of actual primary and general election voting. Will Trump’s “angry” non-regular-voter support change the historical pattern? My guess is that if the elections were held today, they might well turnout. Or, at least a reasonable number of them will. However I’d expect that enthusiasm to wane as the long campaign drones on. Iowa, being the first primary, and a caucus one at that, has a chance to hold some of Trump’s supporters who usually don’t vote. Iowa, however, has historically favored candidates who appealed to the White Evangelical Christian voter. Tea Party favored candidates have done well there in recent Republican nominating races. For Iowa this all favors Ted Cruz. Cruz also, as we noted earlier, has differentiated himself from the rest of the Republican hopefuls in his failure to criticize Trump. As Trump receives continued condemnation from Republican leaders, I’d, therefore, expect some of his regular-voting supporters to migrate to Cruz.