We've written about Donald Trump's uniquely terrible general election fundamentals before, as a complement to his worst-in-the-field numbers versus Hillary Clinton. That hypothetical head-to-head data doesn't mean much this far off from the election, Trump apologists say, which is generally true -- but slightly less so in the case of a Trump vs. Hillary race, I'd contend, given the universal familiarity both candidates "enjoy" among the electorate. Everybody already holds fairly ingrained opinions about both Clinton and Trump, so direct match-up polling between those two may be more useful than usual at this juncture. But if you're inclined to disagree with that analysis, let's turn once again to Trump's underlying standing as a presidential candidate. After all, Trump loves talking about polls. A new national Washington Post/ABC News survey shows Trump still leading the GOP race, but only commanding 34 percent support. In light of the media's saturation coverage and his string of victories and delegate build-up, you'd expect a strong frontrunner to pull voters onto his bandwagon and begin to pull away. That hasn't happened because Trump is not a strong frontrunner. In fact, Trump's lead has diminished
a bit in this series, with all three competitors gaining in this latest snapshot of the race. Support for Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and John Kasich has surged noticeably since last month, indicating that as other campaigns fold, Trump's opponents are gaining. Those voters aren't migrating to the flawed leader. Both Cruz (+13) and Rubio (+6) would garner majorities and beat Trump in one-on-one contests, the survey finds. Now check out the responses to this question about whether GOP voters would be satisfied with [candidate X] as the nominee:
Republicans would overwhelmingly be satisfied with Cruz (+32), Rubio (+28), or Kasich (+23) at the top of the ticket. Trump? He's barely above water (+3), with one-third of the party faithful reporting that they'd be "very dissatisfied," if he's the nominee,more than double anyone else's negative tally on that point. This is a deeply polarizing and controversial figure within his own (current) party. Among voters broadly, he's a five-alarm dumpster fire:
As Allahpundit notes, Trump is (-42) on the honesty metric, nearly twice as bad as Hillary Rodham Clinton. Think about that. And that's his best margin among these four characteristics. He's nearly 50 points (!) upside down on the 'presidential temperament' question. Cruz and Rubio each vastly outperform Trump on each and every one of these points among the general electorate. Cruz is competitive but underwater on all four, while Rubio is actually right-side-up on two of the four. Among Republicans? Blowouts:
The two conservative Senators each hit supermajorities on nearly all four measures, whereas Trump consistently lags in the low-to-mid 40's. Trump's overall favorable/unfavorable rating is a breathtakingly bad (-37), much worse than anyone else polled (Hillary -6, Rubio -6, Cruz -16). NBC also has a new survey pegging Trump's unfavorables near 70 percent. No wonder top Republican donors are trying to execute an eleventh-hour push to block Trump from securing the requisite delegates to clinch the nomination, a plan that the Post says is "risky and hinges on Trump losing [two out of three in] Florida, Illinois and Ohio on March 15." The piece underscores the shortsightedness of Cruz reportedly undermining Rubio in Florida, a state the Texan cannot win, and raises questions about as his team's insistence that a contested convention would be an unacceptable outcome. As John McCormack outlines, it's highly likely that Cruz's only path to the nomination will require...a contested convention. I'll leave you with this, which Katie covered earlier:
BBB: Yes we gave Trump Univ. a D minus. The grade improved only after school began to close down. https://t.co/Bpd9Gj13vK— Jim Merrill (@JimMerrillNH) March 8, 2016
Incidentally, I've seen Trump followers grumbling online that the billionaire's ratings are only this poor because many conservative commentators attack him a lot, and that they'll improve once he's the nominee. First, if Trump fans hate the criticism he's facing now, just wait until the billion-dollar Democratic attack machine goes to work on him. And even if many currently-disgruntled Republicans eventually rally around Trump as the nominee, his margins will still be horrible. Let's say he manages to improve his favorability number by 20 net points, which is exceedingly generous. He'd work himself up to (40/57), which is still flat-out terrible.