Donald Trumps TV ratings might be slumping, but his GOP ratings are shooting up, presumably fueled by his recent, vocal embrace of birtherism. According to a new poll from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal, the Donald has vaulted into second place nationally among likely GOP 2012 presidential primary voters.
According to NBC’s Mark Murray:
"You're fired" isn't a message Republican primary voters and Tea Party supporters are telling real-estate mogul Donald Trump, at least not yet.
According to the latest national NBC/WSJ poll, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney leads the hypothetical 2012 GOP pack with support from 21 percent of Republican primary voters -- followed by Trump and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee at 17 percent each, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at 11 percent and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin at 10 percent.
Ummm, really GOP? There’s no doubt that some sizable chunk of Trump’s popularity is related to name recognition. Romney and Huckabee ran last time; Newt has been a major player in GOP politics since his speaker days; and of course Palin is Palin. (Note that of the big five, the two most polarizing traditional pols--Palin and Gingrich--have the least support.) [See editorial cartoons about Sarah Palin.]
But the poll is another data point in a growing mountain of evidence that a significant portion of the GOP is willing to believe that President Obama was born somewhere other than in the United States. The more rational elements of the party have argued that creeping birtherism is a creation of the liberal media or, some more conspiratorial Republicans suggest, perhaps even the White House itself. Were that the case, were birtherism a tiny, shunned minority of the party, Trump’s embrace of birtherism would leave him as a sideshow, not a serious contender for the nomination. [Check out political cartoons about the Republican Party.]
It’s also worth noting in that regard that the poll has Trump as the Tea Party’s favorite candidate, with support from 20 percent of self-identified Tea Partyers. Romney is second, with 17 percent, which is within the poll’s +/- 3.1 percent margin of error. [Enjoy political cartoons about the Tea Party.]
All of this, as I have written before, is bad news for the serious candidates in the field. So long as Trump is a “serious” candidate, and so long as birtherism is his signature issue, people like Romney will inevitably be forced to address the issue, either looking like a nut or risking ostracizing their base.
One final thought, via Hot Air’s Allahpundit: Trump “leads everyone except Romney, which is as strong a signal as the base can send that they’re not real thrilled with their choices thus far.” Really, who would be?