Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Public Policy Polling has just finished a new survey of the Republican presidential race, and the results are pretty awful for Donald Trump:

Donald Trump has had one of the quickest rises and falls in the history of Presidential politics. Last month we found him leading the Republican field with 26%. In the space of just four weeks he's dropped all the way down to 8%, putting him in a tie for fifth place with Ron Paul.

Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney are at the top of the GOP race with 19% and 18% respectively. Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin are further back at 13% and 12%, followed by Trump and Paul at 8%, Michele Bachmann at 7%, and Tim Pawlenty at 5%.

Well, he's still ahead of Tim Pawlenty, though that's not much consolation. According to the PDF of the results, Daniels and Huntsman weren't mentioned in the survey, so we don't know how the Beltway's "serious" candidates would have fared. Herman Cain wasn't mentioned either. Wonder if he would have topped Trump.

Trump was on Greta Van Susteren's show last night, being interviewed by guest host Martha MacCallum, and he seems to have already prepared his excuses for not running. To hear him tell it, he's the victim of a vast conspiracy, not to mention the fact that the whole country has an ingrained resistance to vital men such as himself:

TRUMP: ... I've been saying for a long time, Martha -- you know, I've heard for years that if you're a very successful person who's done a lot, made lots of deals, good deals, fair deals, put a lot of people to work, you cannot run for high political office, in particular the presidency. And I sort of see it where -- I mean, I have been hammered. Every article is -- if they say anything, it's only negative. And they really are very, very protective of the president. They go all out to protect the president. And to be honest with you, I've never seen anything quite like it.

MACCALLUM: How do you feel about it?

TRUMP: I feel fine about it. I mean, ultimately, the country supersedes all of it, and I feel fine about it. But I have heard over a lifetime that if you have really accomplished a lot and done a lot, you cannot run for high political office. And I can see why.

I can see now why Ross Perot dropped out. You know, he dropped out of the race, and then he went back in a week later. But he dropped out of the race. And I heard from people that were involved that he was just getting hammered because he did a lot. He did a lot of deals, a lot of everything. And he didn't like it. And I guess he had a second thought and he went back in. But I can understand it and it's certainly not that pleasant, but it's something I can handle.

Trump: America isn't worthy of him!


Meanwhile, if the field shakes out the way a lot of people think it might, guess who rises almost to the top, according to the PPP poll?

... with none of Trump, Huckabee, and Palin running Romney gets 28% to 26% for Gingrich, 12% for Paul, and 11% for Bachmann.

Holy crap.

Remember, I warned you a month ago that Gingrich could conceivably win this by being the guy who comes off as both a crazy-base-inspiring demagogue and a sage party elder. Walter Shapiro of The New Republic also thinks Gingrich has a shot, although I'm not sure I'd put this quite the way Shapiro does:

What Gingrich has going for him is that presidential elections are about something beyond gauzy biographical ads and rehearsed debate one-liners. "We're in the personality phase of the campaign," says Republican pollster David Winston, who worked for Gingrich when he was House speaker. "But eventually it's going to move from personality to policy. GOP voters are going to ask, 'What are your solutions to fix the nation's problems?' And that is the moment that plays to Newt's greatest strength."

... That future-oriented part of the conversation is what baffled candidates like Rudy Giuliani and Wesley Clark in 2004 for the Democrats.... Newt Gingrich has always been about the future. The former House speaker's ideas may not always parse and sometimes have an amnesiac's lack of consistency, but more than any Republican running (especially cautious candidates like Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty) Gingrich is likely to ride the intellectual wave of the primaries.

I don't believe Gingrich has ideas so much as insane soundbites that sound like ideas. But that's just it -- they do sound like ideas. He could be a crazy-base person's idea of a deep thinker. And the Beltway (to judge from the frequency of his Sunday TV bookings) still loves him. So watch out for him. At the very least, he could be the second-last guy standing ... or he could be what Kerry was for the Democrats in '04, the uncharismatic gray eminence who takes it all.


Oh, and birtherism? Not quite dead, according to PPP:

In February we found that 51% of Republican primary voters thought Barack Obama was not born in the United States. Now with the release of his birth certificate only 34% of GOP partisans fall into that camp...

Wow -- one in every three Republicans is still a birther. (But PPP notes that Trump's support has collapsed among birthers -- he's running fifth among them. Go figure.)


UPDATE: I posted that last bit too hastily. In comments, classicliberal2 issues a clarification:

Acually, the poll found that 52% of Republicans still dabble in birtherism; it's just being underreported by focusing only on those who take the hardest position. The question asked: "Do you think Barack Obama was born in the United States?" The responses: 34% said no, while 18% said they weren't sure he was. That's a big drop from before the birth certificate was released, but birtherism is still a majority proposition among Republicans.

Yes, still.

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