A new Fox News poll shows that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has garnered a great deal of momentum since announcing his campaign last month. The real estate mogul now tops the primary field with 18 percent support among Republican voters. He’s followed by Scott Walker at 15 percent and Jeb Bush at 14 percent. Everyone else is still wallowing in single digits.
The Trump surge worries GOP establishment leaders who think his brand of no-nonsense conservatism could cost the party a real shot at the White House in 2016. The leadership is clearly rallied around Bush, a figure that has inspired very little excitement among the base. Many conservatives see Bush as little more than a RINO, and his name is toxic to independents who still think his brother was one of the worst presidents to hold the office. Then there are the voters who are sick of the same old names at the top, a block that could prove challenging for Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton as well.
Speaking of Clinton, the poll shows that she is still head and shoulders above her weak competition. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has 19 percent support compared to Clinton’s 59 percent among Democratic primary voters. That bodes well for her nomination, but there are signs that trouble could lie ahead for the former secretary of state. 70 percent of respondents say that a dishonest candidate would be a deal-breaker, and 58 percent say Clinton tends to “hide the truth.” It remains to be seen if those numbers will actually sway the election, but it surely demonstrates to Republicans where Clinton’s weaknesses may lie.
The Trump Factor
Six months ago, no one would have foreseen the rise of Donald Trump from political instigator to serious contender. Written off as a clown by most analysts, Trump has shocked the world by shooting to the top of the polls. His controversial comments on immigration have cost him millions in business deals, but they have endeared him to conservatives tired of wishy-washy politicians. 68 percent of Republican voters think he is right about the dangers of illegal immigration.
The problem is that it’s still difficult to imagine Trump winning a general election against a serious politician like Clinton. His rough talk may appeal to conservatives, but it turns off as many people as it attracts. He has been mercilessly trashed by the mainstream media, a pattern that will undoubtedly continue if he should capture the nomination. Independents who get most of their news from the usual sources will think he’s the devil incarnate by the time November rolls around.
According to the poll, 82 percent of Republicans are either “extremely” or “very” interested in the upcoming election. We know that this is a make-it-or-break-it moment in history. A fumble now would give the Democrats the White House for another four years. It would encase Obama’s policies in concrete and make it ever more difficult for this country to come back from this long period of liberal darkness. Do we go with the “safe bet” or with the wild card? That choice may determine the immediate future of the United States.