The fact that Trump's current spike takes him to the top says more about the lack of a current GOP frontrunner than anything else— Ariel Edwards-Levy (@aedwardslevy) July 9, 2015
Bloomberg's Jonathan Bernstein essentially agreed: In one response, he wrote, "~12% for Trump w/100% name recognition, media frenzy? Unimpressive." Subsequently, he wrote, "he's net -40 (un)favorable among conservative Republicans."
That's been the conventional wisdom about Trump -- that it's easy to shoot to the top in a really crowded field, and it doesn't matter in Trump's case because the vast majority of Republicans really, really hate him.
Right-wing commentators like to put this in the form of a comparison. Here's Peggy Noonan today:
[Trump] is not as popular with Republicans as Bernie Sanders is with Democrats.And Ben Shapiro last week:
Media chortles as Trump polling 12 percent. Bernie Sanders, an open socialist nut who honeymooned in USSR, polls at 33% in Iowa, 35% in NH.— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) July 2, 2015
Is it true that Trump is really disliked by Republicans? Well, it used to be. Chris Cillizza wrote this last month, citing April polling data:
Here's all you need to know about Trump's seriousness as a candidate, in 1 simple chart:
Among Republicans -- you know, the people who decide the identity of their party's presidential nominee -- Trump has a net negative 42 rating. As in 23 percent of Republicans had a favorable view of Trump while 65 percent(!) had an unfavorable one.But go to the new Economist/YouGov poll -- the one that has Trump in first place nationwide among Republican voters, 4 points ahead of his closest rivals for the presidential nomination. Check the crosstabs. You'll see that Trump has a 49% favorable rating among Republicans and a 43% unfavorable rating. His favorable numbers are steadily improving:
And among self-described conservatives, his favorable/unfavorable ratio is 54%/40%.
(By the way, Bernie Sanders has only a 46% favorable rating among Democrats in this poll, although his unfavorable ratings are very low -- a lot of people just don't have an opinion on him. So Sanders's favorable rating in his newfound party is lower than Trump's in his party. His numbers in early states are higher because the Democrats have a much smaller field.)
Public Policy Polling recently conducted a survey in North Carolina, and not only did Trump come in first among Republicans there, but conservatives love him:
Trump's favorability rating in North Carolina is 55/32, much higher than we were finding in national polls prior to his entry into the race. Trump's really caught fire with voters on the far right- 66% of 'very conservative' voters see him favorably to only 24% with a negative view of him.Trump was unpopular among Republicans -- but he's winning them over. And maybe that's not surprising, because it seems as if their resistance to him was never insurmountable. YouGov notes that in an earlier poll, "when they were asked to give a one-word description of Trump, Republicans more often cited negative than positive assessments." But let's look at the word cloud YouGov generated for that survey question:
Yes, there were a lot of negative words.But what's the most popular answer? "Rich." Um, "rich" is a "negative assessment"? For Republicans?
Maybe there's still some solid resistance to Trump among GOP voters. But he's winning them over, at least for now. The surge is real.