Donald Trump is still atop polls for the Republican nomination, growing his lead lead over opponents even after a string of controversial statements and a call to ban all Muslims from entering the United States.
A new poll from the critical early state of New Hampshire found that Trump is gaining ground, now reaching 32 percent support, more than double the next closest competitor. The CNN/WMUR poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center had Trump with an 18-point lead over Marco Rubio, who had only 14 percent support from voters.
None of the other candidates — which include party favorites like Chris Christie and Jeb Bush — had more than 10 percent support. The polls came after Donald Trump had made controversial statement like one appearing to support a national registry for Muslims (though Trump walked back those statement), but took place before he issued a policy statement calling for a temporary ban on Muslims who are not U.S. citizens from entering the country.
Donald Trump had several key advantages in the poll, with voters saying he is the best candidate to handle ISIS and on taxes and spending.
— Forbes (@Forbes) December 9, 2015
— Jim Roberts (@nycjim) December 9, 2015
But even though the poll failed to show the effect of Donald Trump’s controversial statements on Muslims, other sources indicate that his support is unwavering — and that his stance on banning Muslims could actually gain him support. A poll from Bloomberg Politics/Purple Strategies PulsePoll found that two-thirds of likely 2016 Republican primary voters support Trump’s proposal, and one-third said it makes them more likely to vote for him.
“We believe these numbers are made up of some people who are truly expressing religious bigotry and others who are fearful about terrorism and are willing to do anything they think might make us safer,” Doug Usher, who runs polling for Washington-based Purple Strategies, said in his analysis of the findings. “This indicates that, despite some conventional wisdom expressed in the last 48 hours, this is unlikely to hurt Trump at least in the primary campaign.”
As David Andersen and David Peterson of the Washington Post suggest, Donald Trump may be drawing support from people normally disconnected from the political process. His status as an outsider is attractive to this group, who stick by him through the various controversies of his campaign.
“One theory about Trump’s success is that he is energizing people who have traditionally avoided politics and political participation,” the report suggests. “If he succeeds, then our sample will understate his support. But if he doesn’t, and participation in the February caucus does depend on whether voters have voted in earlier primaries, then other polls to date have likely overstated Trump’s support.”
And those supports may stay by Donald Trump even if he fails to win the nomination. A new USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll found that 68 percent of of Trump’s supporters say they would vote for Trump if he bucked the party and ran as an independent.
This could hurt Trump as the primaries near, with the GOP possibly pouring money into a campaign to defeat Trump for the sake of maintaining party unity. A fractured 2016 ticket would likely hand the presidency to Hillary Clinton, a prospect that the party would likely fear.
For months, many political pundits predicted that Trump’s support would eventually waver or hit a plateau as more voters started to study the field and formulate an opinion, but the closer it gets to primary season, the less likely that scenario seems. Instead, Donald Trump has continually built leads in the polls, and now heads into early 2016 voting as the clear favorite of the field.
[Photo by Mic Smith/AP Photo]