A new poll shows that Donald Trump has just opened up his biggest lead yet against his GOP rivals in their bids for the presidential nomination.
The CNN/ORC survey placed Trump as the indisputable leader within the crowded field, garnering an astounding 36 percent of support among Republican and GOP-leaning independent voters. As CNN reports, “the new poll finds the businessman with both his broadest support and his widest lead in any national live-interviewer telephone poll since he announced his candidacy in June.”
In other words, despite facing criticism and outrage over insults to Latinos, women, African Americans and disabled people, Trump’s support continues to grow with GOP voters.
The candidates who trail Trump do so by a wide margin, but are clustered closely together. The poll placed Senator Ted Cruz of Texas in at second, at 16 percent — a full 20 percentage points behind Trump. Cruz is followed closely by former neurosurgeon Ben Carson at 14 percent and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida at 12 percent.
According to NBC News, the huge lead Trump holds in the GOP field will only get stronger and the reason why is simple.
“He’s likely to only get stronger, given that this poll was taken BEFORE the San Bernadino shootings. Why do we say that? According to the poll, more Republicans (46%) think he can handle ISIS better than his closest competition (Cruz at 15%); more Republicans (48%) think he’s better on illegal immigration than his closest competitor (Rubio at 14%); and more Republicans (30%) see him better on foreign policy than anyone else (Cruz at 17%).”
The idea that Trump’s lead will not only remain but, in fact, grow stronger and may actually carry the real estate mogul through the primary process and into the actual presidential election has one particular party in a panic — and it’s not the Democrats.
Listed among the worries over damage Trump may cause his own party is the fear that a Trump nomination would cause an electoral wipeout and eliminate any gains the Republican party has made in recent years, from the federal level down to state and local elections, according to the New York Times.
“With his knack for offending the very constituencies Republicans have struggled with in recent elections, women and minorities, Mr. Trump could be a millstone on his party if he won the nomination. He is viewed unfavorably by 64 percent of women and 74 percent of nonwhite voters, according to a November ABC News/Washington Post poll. Such unpopularity could not only doom his candidacy in November but also threaten the party’s tenuous majority in the Senate, hand House seats to the Democrats and imperil Republicans in a handful of governor’s races.”
Despite the fact that Trump’s lead within the GOP field is wide, he is still viewed in an unfavorable light by the majority within the general electorate.
Furthermore, the problem for the rest of the Republican party is not only that they believe a Donald Trump presidency would be disastrous to their party, but that they do not know what to do about it.
As the Times reported, “In a party that lacks a true leader or anything in the way of consensus — and with the combative Mr. Trump certain to scorch anyone who takes him on — a fierce dispute has arisen about what can be done to stop his candidacy and whether anyone should even try.”
According to Matt Borges, chairman of the Ohio Republican Party, a Trump nomination would spell disaster for his party in his state.
“If he carries this message into the general election in Ohio, we’ll hand this election to Hillary Clinton — and then try to salvage the rest of the ticket.”
Pat Brady, the former state Republican chairman in Illinois, a state which, like Ohio, faces a competitive campaign in this election, agrees.
“If [Trump’s] our nominee, the repercussions of that in this state would be devastating,” Mr. Brady said.
Senator Lindsay Graham, himself a contender in the GOP primaries and South Carolina senator, was much more blunt about Trump and the danger he believes a Trump nomination would create for his party.
“It would be an utter, complete and total disaster. If you’re a xenophobic, race-baiting, religious bigot, you’re going to have a hard time being president of the United States, and you’re going to do irreparable damage to the party.”
Despite the fear and worry that many Republicans feel over Trump, none of them are willing to step forward and lead on that front, and the reason why seems more akin to why a playground bully is allowed to terrorize his classmates rather than political discourse.
To go after Trump is to invite Trump’s scathing wrath, and no one wants to deal with it.
Furthermore, there is a belief that, were the GOP to attack Trump, his appeal within the field of Republican voters would only widen and grow deeper.
“I think it would play into his hands and only validate him,” explained Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee. “A ‘Stop Trump’ effort wouldn’t work, and it might help him.”
[Photo by Alex Wong / Getty Images]