A new Rasmussen poll released on Tuesday shows a strong majority of Americans agree that Republican frontrunner Donald Trump is not ready to be president. Also on Tuesday, a New York Times study of negative ad revenue found that Trump was the target of more than half of attack ad spending in the 2016 presidential race.
Attack ads seemed ineffective in previous contests, particularly in the Florida primary, but they may finally be taking their toll. The new Rasmussen report seems rather damning.
According to the poll, 66 percent of likely U.S. voters said The Donald is not qualified of the White House. Only 43 percent said the same of Ted Cruz, and 30 percent said so about John Kasich. That does not mean most Americans think Cruz qualified, however — only 40 percent said he was, while 54 percent said so of Kasich. A mere 27 percent said Trump is ready for the job. Very few voters polled were undecided about Trump’s qualifications, or lack thereof, while 18 percent and 16 percent were undecided on Cruz and Kasich, respectively.
A majority of Republicans said they thought Cruz and Kasich qualified, but less than 50 percent said so about Trump.
Meanwhile, of the $132 million spent on negative ads by candidates and outside groups in the presidential race thus far, nearly $70 million has paid for commercials attacking Trump, according to a New York Times analysis of data from Kantar Media/CMAG. This includes ad revenue spent against other GOP candidates, as well as that spent against Clinton and Sanders.
Three Republican super PACs substantially contributed to this haul. The Club for Growth, Our Principles PAC, and the American Future Fund, all unaligned with any particular candidate, have spent over $23.5 million on ads against Trump, the Times reported. The Club for Growth did endorse Cruz last month, however.
“What is unusual and unprecedented is the array of advertisers who are out there flogging Trump on the air,” Elizabeth Wilner, senior vice president at Kantar Media/CMAG, explained. “You have general election foes attacking him, you have his primary foes attacking him, and you have specific groups whose whole focus in life is just to make sure that he’s not the nominee.”
Next Page: Even if these ads work, can they stop Trump from getting the nomination?
These hits may have started to hit their mark, but polls in the upcoming New York primary show Trump still strongly in the lead. He holds a 34 percent lead over Kasich, and a 36 percent lead over Cruz in the RealClearPolitics polling average in that state. The pivotal race to watch is California, which does not vote until June 7, but will award 172 delegates. Cruz has risen in the past month, pushing Trump’s lead down to 7 percent.
If Cruz (and Kasich) can hold Trump below 1,237 delegates before the July convention in Cleveland, Ohio, he will likely become the favorite to win, due to his extensive efforts in courting delegates to the convention. Get ready for a tense few months.