Stung by a political backlash to his comments demeaning Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Donald Trump appears anxious to change the subject. He is planning a trip to the U.S.-Mexican border Thursday to talk about illegal immigration – the topic that helped catapult him to the head of the GOP presidential field during the past few weeks.
But a new survey by Quinnipiac University of voter attitudes in the presidential battleground states of Iowa, Colorado and Virginia shows the billionaire businessman with the worst negative ratings of any of the more prominent GOP candidates.
The Donald suffers from a negative-to-favorable rating of nearly 2 to 1 among voters in all three states. While the findings are not directly related to the primary contest for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, they say a lot about Trump’s potential electability in a general election campaign.
“Donald Trump stands out for the wrong reason among the 17 candidates for the Republican presidential nomination,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, in a statement. “His large negative favorability rating means his growth potential is not as attractive as his competitors.”
In Colorado, for example, 31 percent of voters have a favorable view of Trump and 58 percent have an unfavorable view, a net minus 27 percent approval rating. By contrast, former Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon Ben Carson scored a net plus 16 point favorability rating, followed by Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida with plus 11 and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker with plus 10.
It is much the same story in Iowa, home to the first in the nation presidential caucuses. Trump is at the bottom of the GOP candidate heap with a minus 25 point approval rating, compared with plus 15 for Walker and plus 9 for Rubio.
In Virginia, Trump is down by 29 points in voter approval, compared with plus 11 for Carson, plus 10 for Walker and plus 9 for Rubio.
Trump, whose bellicosity and take-no-prisoners rhetoric about illegal immigrants helped him surge to the lead in the Republican presidential contest, will likely shrug off Quinnipiac’s latest findings in three important swing states.
The latest Washington Post-ABC News nationwide poll put Trump in first place with 24 percent of registered Republicans, followed by Walker with 13 percent, former Florida governor Jeb Bush with 12 percent, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee with 8 percent and Rubio of Florida with 7 percent.
There is no evidence that Trump’s popularity has fallen following his disparaging remarks about McCain’s Vietnam War service last Saturday at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa.
A new Morning Consult poll released Tuesday finds Trump leading the Republican field with 22 percent of the vote, well ahead of Bush with 15 percent and Walker, in third place with 12 percent. The poll was conducted July 17-20, while the controversy was erupting.
Trump is scheduled to visit Laredo, Texas, on Thursday to hold a meet and greet with the local Border Patrol union, see the border and address local law enforcement officials, according to The Texas Tribune.
Trump's candidacy and intemperate remarks have sharply divided top Texas Republicans, with former Gov. Rick Perry emerging as the most vocal critic to call for Trump to drop out of the race, while Sen. Ted Cruz has refused to criticize the real estate magnate.