Donald Trump may be surging in GOP polls, but according to a new Quinnipiac poll, he is the worst performing Republican in the general election. He even loses to one of the weaker Democratic candidates: the socialist, Bernie Sanders.
The new poll shows Trump losing to Hillary Clinton, the probable Democratic nominee, 48 to 36. That's a 12-point loss to a woman the American people do not trust. We knew from prior polling data that Americans don't trust Hillary — but interestingly, this new poll shows that Trump's trust levels are just as low as hers. Fifty-eight percent of Americans distrust Donald Trump, while 57 percent distrust Hillary.
Trump also loses to Bernie Sanders 45 to 37 — an eight-point differential. He also loses to Joe Biden (who hasn't declared a candidacy) by 12 points — 49 to 37. Trump may be surging in GOP quarters, but he would clearly be a dead loss in a general election. He doesn't beat a single Democrat in this poll.
Let's also mention that Trump lost to Sanders by 21 points in another recent national poll.
Trump's low numbers against Democrats are highly telling in part because other Republicans do quite well by comparison. Scott Walker beats Bernie Sanders by five points, ties Joe Biden, and trails Hillary by one point. Jeb Bush also beats Sanders by five points, trails Joe Biden by one, and beats Hillary by one.
These results, along with the extensive swing-state polls from last week, put both Scott Walker and Jeb Bush in strong positions going forward. Walker led Clinton by nine points in Colorado, three points in Virginia, and eight points in Iowa. He's also in second place among GOP voters, and he looks poised to win the Iowa caucus as the current front-runner in that state. Trump's surge has certainly challenged Walker in Iowa, but Trump still trails him by two. If Trump's support has maxed out at this point (and it likely has), Walker's lead will likely only improve in Iowa.
Bush has shored up much of the moderate GOP vote, though that support is now being contested by John Kasich, the newest of the GOP candidates. Kasich claimed five percent of the GOP vote in the recent nationwide poll, and Bush — who last week received 15 percent support — has now fallen to 10 percent.
The Trump surge has largely skewed our understanding of how conservatives see the other Republican candidates. His rise has caused support for the other prominent conservatives to dry up — particularly for Ted Cruz, Ben Carson and Marco Rubio. Trump is likely also stealing support from the still-prominent Scott Walker. The numbers are still very much in flux, and we'll have to wait until the debate season (which starts August 6) to see how they begin to shake out. If Trump declines, we'll get a better picture of what conservatives actually think about the other candidates. They are arguably the best Republican field since 1980, and this is an election that Republicans can win.
If there's any candidate who can become the anti-Trump, it will probably have to be a governor — and it is likely Scott Walker. It will have to be a governor because the senators in this race are all in some way tainted by Washington, and Trump is drawing most of his support from anti-Washington frustration. Walker possesses all the characteristics of a true reformer: he's foreign to Washington, has a stellar track record in Wisconsin (a potential swing state), and brings youthful energy. There are, of course, others who can fill those shoes: Rick Perry, John Kasich, Bobby Jindal — successful governors each in their own right. We'll just have wait and see what the debates hold.