|Credit: Gage Skidmore via Wikipedia Commons|
An ABC News/Washington Post poll released today shows Trump was the favorite with GOP registered or Republican-leaning voters with 24% support.
Scott Walker was second with 13% and Jeb Bush was right behind with 12% support. Put another way, Trump has as much support as Walker and Bush combined!
The next seven candidates ranging from 8% to 3% support are Huckabee, Rubio, Carson, Paul, Cruz, Perry and Christie. This is important as only the top 10 in the polls will be allowed to participate in the first GOP Presidential Debate on August 6.
The GOP candidates that don't make the top 10 are Jindal, Kasich, Pataki, Santorum, Fiorina and Graham. None of this group polls better than 2% right now. And if they can't get exposure in the debates it is hard to see how they can get any traction in the race. As I have written before, this is unfortunate and should not be the way the race is run.
The GOP should be making the process more inclusionary and less exclusionary, simplifying the process for voters, and adding some competitive excitement to the race. They should not be trying to limit competition because of the large field and TV rules. There is a way it can be done as I have suggested.
Donald Trump's rise in the polls shows two things. The power of name ID and the power of straight talk. Carly Fiorina, George Pataki or Bobby Jindal would have to spend tens of millions in advertising to come close to matching Trump's celebrity. However, I believe that it is Trump's straight talk that has been most responsible for his rise in the polls.
There is a substantial part of the electorate that are fed up with Washington, politics as usual, and political correctness. They are tired of our borders being overrun with illegal immigration while nothing is done by either the Republicans or Democrats. They are tired of the United States being the world's policeman and getting spit in the face. They are tired of seeing every trade agreement resulting in job losses for Americans. They are tired of seeing Islamic extremism being called workplace violence or the acts of lost souls. They are tired of lousy laws and terrible treaties being sold as "good as we can get."
What will be most interesting to me is whether the message survives even if the messenger does not.
And there is no question in my mind that the messenger in this case will not be delivering an Inaugural Address on January 20, 2017.
If you doubt that consider this polling question that was asked of all voters in the ABC/Post Poll.
I will make one other bold prediction. If I am wrong and Trump does win the Presidency, John McCain will not be his Secretary of Defense. You can't say I don't go out on a limb with my forecasts!
Interestingly, in a Bush-Clinton race 44% would definitely not vote for Bush and 43% would definitely not vote for Clinton. That is why, despite whatever merits Jeb Bush has as a person or candidate, he is a poor pick to run against Clinton. Hillary is carrying a lot of baggage into the race. Why would I pick someone with an equivalent amount of baggage when I have 15 other candidates that can be marketed with a relatively clean slate with most voters?
However, despite Trump's negatives if his straight talk continues to gain traction with GOP voters he will impact the race. And it could be pretty significant as we get into the debates and more intense campaigning and media attention drives the candidates to differentiate themselves from the pack.
Politicians are first and foremost very good listeners. They have no future without votes. They will bend with the political winds if Trump's straight talk continues to appeal to voters. The message that they carry may not be as bold or brash as Trump but a trumpet call nevertheless will be going out to the other candidates if Trump's appeal is sustained.
Another insight into voters right now is the response to this question in the poll where 23% of voters indicate that neither party represents their own personal values! Compare that to other periods when that question has been asked. This is another reason that Trump is polling well.
Keep an eye on Trump and his trumpet. And keep an eye out for the rest of orchestra. If the trumpet continues to strike a chord with the voters, you are going to hear a lot of similar notes even if they are not played with the same verve and vigor. Those notes mean votes. And votes are everything in this concert.