I noted yesterday that a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that self-promoter and real estate developer Donald Trump has risen to second place among GOP 2012 primary voters. I suggested that while part of this is no doubt a function of name recognition, his rise is also more evidence that the birther movement has grown to become a not insignificant portion of the Republican Party. Trump’s presidential musings have gained media traction in recent weeks, after all, almost solely based on his discovery of the conspiracy theory that President Obama was born abroad.
Public Policy Polling has some new numbers out which quantify that theory. The Democratic firm tested Trump among national Republicans in mid-February and found they didn’t like him: 31 percent viewed him favorably and 53 percent negatively. But in their latest poll, released yesterday, 40 percent of GOPers now like him and only 33 percent don’t. As PPP’s Tom Jensen notes:
That represents a 29 point increase in his net favorability over just a very short period of time.
The strength Trump is showing in horse race polls is a less function of Republicans admiring him due to his being a prominent successful businessman for decades and much more a positive reaction to all his far right rhetoric just in the last few months.
What’s changed? Trump has given voice to the crazy side of the GOP. And an alarming number of them seem to like it.