Polls show 12% of republicans think Donald Trump is the best candidate, placing him in second place behind Jeb Bush in a crowded field. Trump himself, and some news outlets, have pointed to this as evidence that the billionaire’s unlikely candidacy might have legs after all. But in a republican primary with fourteen declared candidates, what do these numbers really mean? Does he have a shot at the nomination? And what would happen in the general election if he were the nominee?
These poll numbers mean that 88% of republicans think some other candidate would be better. And of course 100% of democrats think someone else would be better. That means only about 6% of total voters consider Trump the best candidate. So you can ignore the headlines suggesting that he’s suddenly a legitimate candidate; these news outlets are misinterpreting the polls.
If Trump did somehow get the republican nomination, the polls say Hillary Clinton would beat him by a 59% to 34% margin. She leads all republican candidates by double digits, so that’s not a surprise. But a gap that wide means that if Trump were the opponent, he’d be looked on so unfavorably that even a decent number of republicans would vote for Hillary just to keep him from winning.
In my own circle, I’ve observed that most of my republican friends think Trump is a fraud and they wish he weren’t running. Most of the people showing support for him are the kind of people who like to claim that all politicians are the same, have no political knowledge of their own, and are simply responding to the fact that he’s bashing all politicians, which appeals to their apathy. The thing about these types is they invariably end up not voting anyway. That suggests he would get even less than 34% if he were the nominee.
So if the recent headlines about him being a “frontrunner” have made you concerned that Donald Trump could actually become the President, there’s little to worry about. In fact, if you’re rooting for Hillary and the democrats to win, the best thing that could happen in that regard would be for Trump to get the republican nomination. And if you’re rooting for the republicans to take the White House in 2016, the numbers say your best bet would be for someone in your party other than Trump to get the nod.