After arguably his worst week of campaigning for the GOP presidential nomination last week, billionaire Donald Trump has begun slipping in the polls and is likely to suffer a rare defeat in today’s Wisconsin Republican primary.
While Trump clearly remains the frontrunner nationwide, his backing among Republicans and Independent GOP-leaners has dropped by three percentage points, from 48 percent to 45 percent according to a new NBC News/SurveyMoney Weekly Election Tracking Poll. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas – who is favored to win in Wisconsin today—trails Trump nationally with 28 percent of the Republican vote, while Ohio Gov. John Kasich is far back in third place with 18 percent.
A three-point drop in the national polls in a week should be cause for concern, since the current 17-point spread between Trump and Cruz is the smallest since mid-February, as NBC noted. Yet given the dimensions of Trump’s disastrous comments on abortion that he had to recant, Trump may have escaped relatively unscathed among Republican voters.
The week unfolded nightmarishly for Trump after his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, was charged by Florida authorities with assaulting a female reporter. Trump stood by Lewandowski and blamed the reporter. Trump later told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews that if abortions were banned under a Trump presidency, women who obtained them would have to face “some form of punishment.” He quickly disavowed his statement in the face of sharp criticism from pro and anti-abortion forces.
During interviews with new organizations, Trump declared NATO “obsolete.” Then, while President Obama hosted an international conference on combatting the nuclear threat, Trump said Japan and South Korea should arm themselves with nuclear weapons as a counterweight against China and North Korea – the same week.
For all the tumult in the media and along the campaign trail, Trump’s polling numbers remained relatively stable. Even among Republican women, his support slipped only slightly, from 45 percent last week to 42 percent now, according to the NBC poll.
The bottom line is a familiar one: Regardless of what the rest of the country might think of him –and he is saddled unquestionably with the highest negatives of anyone on the political scene today – Trump’s support within his party is rock solid and immune to criticism of virtually anything he might say or do.
Trump has tapped into a rich vein of anger and pessimism among voters that is steeped in the conviction that the government, the economy and national values are all badly out of kilter and in need of Trump’s brash, iconoclastic approach.
A new Quinnipiac University national survey of voter attitudes published today shows that Trump supporters feel strongly that their values and beliefs are under attack. Trump once boasted he could do anything without endangering his political support – even shooting someone on Fifth Avenue – and the latest survey supports that. Eighty-four percent of Trump supporters agree with the statement, “We need a leader who is willing to say or do anything to solve America’s problems.”
The survey reaffirms previous research findings of widespread dissatisfaction among Americans who feel that the country has somehow lost its identity, that they are falling behind financially and that public officials don’t care what they think. Indeed, more than half of all voters, Democrats and Republicans alike, share in those views.
But the most extreme views on these and other issues troubling the public are held by Republicans and GOP-leaning voters who strongly identify with Trump.
“Many American voters, especially Republicans, are dissatisfied with their own status and the status of the country, but by far the most dissatisfied are Donald Trump’s supporters, who strongly feel that they themselves and the country are under attack,” said Quinnipiac University Poll Director Douglas Schwartz in a statement. “Trump supporters are true stand-outs. They want a leader who is very different from the leader sought by other voters, explaining the mystery many see behind Trump's support.”
Here are just a few examples:
- On the question of whether America has lost its identity--57 percent of all voters and 79 percent of all Republicans agree with that while 85 percent of Trump supporters endorse that sentiment.
- On the statement that “I’m falling further and further behind economically”--While 57 percent of all Americans and 67 percent of all Republicans agree with that, 78 percent of Trump supporters embrace that attitude.
- On whether their beliefs and values are under attack--62 percent of all Americans and 85 percent of all Republicans agree with that assertion while an astounding 91 percent of Trump supporters endorse that sentiment.