Regarding Donald Trump, the mainstream media is currently working its way through the Five Stages of Grief. We’ve passed through denial and anger, are currently in the midst of bargaining, and will soon be in the throes of depression and — gasp! — acceptance. From pollster Stuart Rothenberg at Roll Call comes this cry for help:
Most national polls show Republican frontrunner Donald Trump trailing likely Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and faring worse than other GOP hopefuls against her. That raises an obvious question: Could doubts about Trump’s strength in a general election derail his bid for the Republican nomination, or would GOP caucus attendees and primary voters simply ignore poll numbers that suggest Trump would be a risky bet in November?
Well, you do what you can to derail the Trump Express. But, there’s always a “but.”
For the moment, Trump need not worry about electability. A Dec. 4-8 CBS News/New York Times poll found 51 percent of Republicans believed he would be their party’s nominee in 2016. Trump had a commanding 19-point lead over Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in the national GOP ballot, and Republican voters said that nominating a strong leader (42 percent) or someone honest and trustworthy (30 percent) was more important than nominating someone who could win a general election (6 percent).
A Dec. 16-17 Fox News poll found a large plurality of Republican primary voters believed that Trump had the best chance of any Republican to defeat Clinton.
And another “but” —
But Quinnipiac University’s Dec. 16-20 survey showed Trump’s image with all registered voters at 33 percent favorable/59 percent unfavorable – dismal numbers, and the highest unfavorable rating of any GOP hopeful.
Trump trailed Clinton by 11 points, 49 percent to 38 percent, in the mid-December Fox News ballot test, while Cruz and Clinton were tied at 45 percent and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio held a 45 percent to 43 percent lead over Clinton. The Quinnipiac poll found Trump trailing Clinton 47 percent to 40 percent, while Cruz and Clinton were tied at 44 percent and Rubio trailed Clinton by a single point, 44 percent to 43 percent.
But, still another “but”:
But not every survey showed Trump trailing Clinton so dramatically in hypothetical match ups. For example, a Dec. 17-21 CNN/ORC survey showed the two candidates separated by only two points (Clinton 49 percent, Trump 47 percent). Of course, Cruz held a 2-point lead over Clinton and Rubio a 3-point lead in that survey, seemingly confirming that Trump is a weaker nominee against Clinton than at least two other Republican hopefuls.
And, just for laughs, one but more:
But even if additional surveys between now and the Iowa caucuses show Trump’s relative weakness in the general election, it is not yet clear that GOP voters – and Trump voters – will care.
Translation: who the heck knows? As the late Al Davis famously said: “Just win, baby.”
No ifs, ands or buts about it.