As Trump supporters celebrate a widely-anticipated home turf win in New York, they'll likely overlook yet another national poll showing the Republican frontrunner trailing likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton by double digits as general election season approaches. The latest NBC/WSJ survey -- which joins the WaPo/ABC and Associated Press polling series in measuring Trump's unfavorable ratings as the worst in history -- finds (the unpopular) Clinton holding a lead of 11 points over Trump, as other potential GOP opponents fare markedly better:
NBC/WSJ GOP vs. Hillary (D+1 sample):— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) April 19, 2016
Kasich up 12 (51/39)
Cruz down 2 (44/46)
Trump down 11 (39/50)
Trump followers typically respond by dismissing inconvenient results as "biased" (problem: the polling has been quite consistent for weeks), and deploying Reagan comparisons from 1980 (problem: those arguments are bunk). As my tweet notes, this specific poll features a D+1 partisan sample, which may very well be generous to Republicans based on turnout trends over recent presidential cycles. The same poll shows respondents roughly evenly split on the question of which party should control Congress, which may be a heartening sign for down-ticket Republicans, some of whom are beginning to peel away from attending July's party convention. It also shows that it's not an overtly slanted poll against the GOP. Here's a slightly puzzling nugget from the new survey:
Republican voters support option 1, but oppose option 3? pic.twitter.com/AZOPClWc0r— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) April 19, 2016
Republican voters are comfortable with Cruz winning at the convention by persuading delegates to support his campaign, but they're opposed to Trump being denied the nomination even if he commands a plurality -- but not the required majority -- of delegates. Huh. As you unpack that apparent contradiction, the one message that is unambiguously clear in that data set is that a huge majority of GOP voters would cry foul if a non-2016 candidate "parachutes" in and claims the nomination, which speaks to a point Scott Walker made yesterday. It's also an almost completely misplaced fear, as the Trump and Cruz delegates who will populate the convention's rules committee will have every incentive to craft the governing regulations in such a way that totally shuts down the path of any potential "dark horse" candidate. A majority of 1,237 delegates is required to clinch the GOP nod. If no one hits that mark, an open convention is the required result, as determined by voters -- the majority of whom continue to oppose their own party's extraordinarily weak frontrunner. The name of the game is, and always has been, the accrual of delegates -- a task at which Team Cruz has proven very adept. In fact, NBC News reports that Cruz's camp may have already locked up approximately half of Pennsylvania's delegates prior to next week's vote, most of whom are unbound under the state's odd rules. 'Unfair! Rigged! Corrupt!' Trump will whine, having been outmaneuvered yet again. But rules are rules. Rush Limbaugh asked an interesting question this week, prior to Trump's big night in New York: Why should The Donald get such a massive percentage of Empire State delegates if he doesn't even come close to winning a corresponding percentage of the raw vote? Wouldn't that qualify as "devious" and underhanded under Trump's new standard? Answer: Because rules are rules, and Trump (by his own admission!) only whinges about them when he doesn't like the outcome, or needs to change the subject from another humiliating loss, as he did after Wisconsin and Colorado.
I'll leave you with these stories about major internal strife in Trumpland, with Corey Lewandowski losing power, and a top official quitting the campaign. The bad news for Trump fans is that he's presiding over a dysfunctional trainwreck. The good news is that it appears that Trump is finally getting more serious about campaign spending, and that actual professionals with some knowledge of how politics works are gaining the upper hand over incompetent amateurs. If Trump can salvage the last few months of this primary campaign with this significant shake-up, that might be enough to push him over the top.