Donald Trump, days ahead of what looks to be his biggest victory of the presidential campaign, held a Town Hall that his supporters and politics junkies watched live on MSNBC. It went head-to-head with a CNN Town Hall featuring his two closest competitors, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, on Wednesday night, in another act of defiance directed by Trump to his Republican rivals.
Trump, however, can afford to continue his audacious behavior, at least according to every major poll. Even after breaking with Republican orthodoxy at last Saturday’s GOP debate, directly laying responsibility for the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks at the feet of then-President George W. Bush, older brother of struggling Republican candidate Jeb Bush, and drawing a hearty round of boos from the live debate audience, Trump appears ready to coast to an easy and decisive win in the February 20 South Carolina GOP primary.
Watch a full replay of the Donald Trump MSNBC Town Hall in the video below, from 8 p.m. Eastern Time, 5 p.m. Pacific, on Wednesday, February 17.
Trump was questioned by MSNBC Morning Joe co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brezinski.
And for those who can’t remember those times, never fear. MSNBC has followed CNN’s lead in broadcasting a constant “countdown clock,” reminding viewers exactly how many hours and minutes remain until Trump takes the stage for the live broadcast and stream.
— Jim Roberts (@nycjim) February 16, 2016
The MSNBC Morning Joe program featured a Trump rally again on Wednesday morning, in which Trump invited two of his supporters to the podium to speak. The results can be seen in the video below.
In the three top statistical poll averages, Trump holds a seemingly insurmountable lead between 16 and 17 percentage points over Cruz in South Carolina and between 18 and 21 points over Rubio, with the other three remaining candidates — Bush, Ben Carson, and John Kasich — trailing well behind with single-digit polling numbers.
On the Pollster.com site, operated by the Huffington Post, Trump leads with 36.8 percent of the South Carolina Republican vote, compared to just 20.4 percent for the evangelical Texas Senator Cruz, and Florida Senator Rubio.
Real Clear Politics sees Trump at 35 percent even as of February 16, while Cruz is at 17.8 and Rubio at a flat 16.
Finally, FiveThirtyEight.com also has Trump with an even 35 percent, but Cruz stands at 18.8 and Rubio at 16.4.
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All three sites take an average of every major poll conducted, using slightly different formulas to “weight” the significance of each poll. FiveThirtyEight also uses a sophisticated statistical system to assign a probability of victory to each candidate.
Using that method, FiveThirtyEight sees Trump with an 85 percent chance of winning the South Carolina Republican Primary on Saturday. Cruz has a paltry 9 percent chance, while Rubio’s probability of victory is only 5 percent. None of the other three candidates have, effectively, any chance at all.
MSNBC has come under some criticism for a pro-Trump bias from the co-hosts of its morning show — a show that, unlike the network’s largely liberal-leaning evening lineup headlined by Rachel Maddow, is notable for the conservative bent of co-host Scarborough, a 52-year-old former three-term Republican congressional representative from Florida who went on to carve out a successful career as a radio and TV political talks show host.
Scarborough, as well as Brezinski, have been accused — often by reports on competing cable news network CNN — of getting too close to Donald Trump, even “hanging out” with Trump in his hotel room as he watched the results of the February 9 New Hampshire primary.
— Dylan Byers (@DylanByers) February 10, 2016
Data compiled by the TV Eyes monitoring service shows that the name of Donald Trump has been mentioned on Morning Joe 2,144 times since the New York real estate billionaire announced his candidacy last June. That’s more often than any other single cable TV news program.
The Donald Trump MSNBC Town Hall event streamed live on MSNBC.com at this link, as well as on mobile devices via the MSNBC app.
[Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images]