Donald Trump, GOP frontrunner and self-styled anti-establishment candidate, knows how to entertain.
He also understands that he has built a political brand which garners momentum from the very type of controversy that would sink any other candidate in the field.
When you put those two things together, you have a recipe for bombastic rhetoric designed to hold the electorate in a perpetual state of shock and embed a tiny voice that says “you know, maybe he’s right” in the back of voters’ collective mind.
The genius of Trump is that he’s been remarkably adept at making voters question whether what he says is actually crazy or just sounds that way because Americans have been conditioned to recoil at anything that breaks decorum or sounds like it might not be “PC.” And that plays right into his message. He makes you wonder if it’s you that’s the crazy one. Perhaps you’ve been put in a stupor by years of watered down stump speeches and Trump is just speaking plainly and saying what everyone knows is true but is too scared to say in public. If that’s true, he’s a kind of nationalistic Morpheus trying to pull you out of a dangerous, misplaced multiculturalism Matrix. Or at least that’s what he wants you to think. It could be that he is exactly what his detractors say he is: a demagogue that’s stark raving mad.
As we said earlier this week, voters will ultimately decide what Trump is or isn’t and render their judgement at the polls and make no mistake, the Donald’s controversial suggestion that Muslims should be banned from entering the country has resonated with large swaths of the electorate and a new poll shows that in South Carolina, Trump has opened up a commanding lead since creating a firestorm on Monday.
“It’s no wonder Trump is leading,” GOP mouthpiece Fox News (which has had its differences with Trump this year) says. “He’s ahead among both those who prioritize national security and economic issues. He’s the top pick among voters on the two most important candidate qualities -- strong leader and, to a lesser degree, honest and trustworthy. Plus, he’s considered the most electable -- by a lot.”
The poll surveyed 437 likely Republican primary voters by phone from December 5-8. Here are the numbers at a glance:
- Trump: 35%
- Carson: 15%
- Cruz: 14%
- Rubio: 14%
- Bush: 5%
Don’t even ask about the rest of the field.
Here’s more from Fox:
There’s no gender gap in Trump’s support, as about a third of men (37 percent) and women (32 percent) GOP voters make him their first choice.
The favorites among white evangelical Christians voting in the GOP primary are Trump (34 percent), Carson (18 percent), Cruz (15 percent) and Rubio (12 percent).
Trump holds a wide lead among voters who say national security is their top issue. He receives 32 percent -- twice the support for Carson, Cruz and Rubio, who each get 16 percent among national security voters.
And those who prioritize economic issues back the same four candidates: Trump (32 percent), Rubio (14 percent), Carson (12 percent) and Cruz (12 percent).
[In a] 48 percent landslide, Trump got [the nod] when GOP primary voters are asked which Republican candidate is “most qualified” to handle the economy. No other candidate even garners double digits on this measure. The next closest are Bush and Cruz at 9 percent each, followed by Rubio at 8 percent.
Strong leadership is the top trait GOP primary voters want in their party’s nominee (26 percent).
Voters who say strong leadership is the most important trait are most likely to support Trump by a wide 23-point margin.
GOP primary voters think Trump is the Republican most likely to beat Clinton in the general election next year. Some 42 percent feel that way. Next is Rubio at 14 percent.
As for the Democratic ticket, the poll showed that as far as South Carolina voters are concerned, Clinton is essentially running unopposed.
And the punchline: "It looks like his [Muslin ban] comments helped him in South Carolina. Support for Trump increased eight points after his statement -- from 30 percent the first two nights vs. 38 percent the last two nights."
Trump is also surging in the national polls. According to the latest New York Times, CBS poll, Trump’s support among Republican primary voters has gained 13 pts to 35%, his highest level yet.
You can read all of the details in the document embedded below, or you can save yourself some time and just read these tweets:
Wow, my poll numbers have just been announced and have gone through the roof!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 10, 2015
I have decided to postpone my trip to Israel and to schedule my meeting with @Netanyahu at a later date after I become President of the U.S.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 10, 2015