Over the past 2 days there has been a surge of headlines along the lines of "Trump campaign implodes" as a result of the Friday afternoon video published by the WaPo (which had been in NBC's archives for months, and which was curiously not published previously) exposing Trump's lewd language toward women. The reaction, at least in Congress, has been swift. According to the most recent "whip list" conducted by The Hill, dozens of elected GOP officials and lawmakers have either revoked their support for Trump (at last check the number was nine) while another 21 called on Trump to drop out of the race. According to a separate count, some 30% of the GOP senate caucus is no longer supporting Trump in some capacity (16 of 54), which includes 19% of men and 83% of women.
But what about the all important rank-and-file GOP voter constituency: has the Trump tape had any impact where it really counts?
The answer, perhaps not surprisingly, is a resounding no. According to a new poll released this morning by Politico/Morning Consult, a vast majority of Republican voters is standing behind Donald Trump after the so-called "campaign imploding" tape scandal.
While nearly three-quarters, or 74%, of all voters polled reacted negatively to the video, almost three-quarters of Republicans, or 74%, said GOP leaders should still back Trump. Only a modest 12% of Republican voters said Trump should end his campaign, pollsters found, and - perhaps more surprisingly - only 13% of female Republicans said he should drop out.
Less surprising was the finding that 70% of Democrats, meanwhile, said Trump should leave the race.
Overall, the poll of 1,549 registered voters, including 1,390 likely voters, which was conducted on Saturday (with a 3% margin of error), found that fewer than four-in-10 voters, or 39%, think Trump should end his presidential campaign, while only slightly more voters, 45 percent, think he should not drop out.
Just as notable, when it comes to overall support at the national level, there has been a very modest impact on polls. Here Hillary Clinton leads Trump in the four-way race for the White House by four points, 42% to 38 percent, with eight percent supporting Gary Johnson, three percent supporting Jill Stein and nine percent undecided. Clinton also leads by four in a two-way race, 45 percent to 41 percent.
Also suggesting that the tape will have a lesser impact on voting intentions, and sway opinions at least among core camps, than the media hopes to be the case, is that according to the poll 48% of GOP voters said it makes them feel less favorably toward Trump, while 36 percent said it doesn’t affect their opinions of Trump.
Perhaps most unexpectedly for all those senior republicans calling for Trump's head - perhaps taking advantage of the tape to express how they had intended to vote, or not vote, all along - Trump's support dropped just 1 point from a similar poll conducted before his comments were released.
The apology did help Trump somewhat with Republicans: 65% said they view him either very or somewhat more favorably after viewing it. But among all voters, only 37 percent viewed Trump more favorably.
After viewing both videos as part of the poll’s administration, more voters say Trump shouldn’t drop out of the race, 45 percent, than say he should, 39 percent. More than three-quarters of Republicans, 78 percent, say Trump shouldn’t end his campaign. And more independents, 44 percent, say Trump should stay in the race, compared with only 35 percent who think he should drop out.
In an amusing twist, Politico also notes that "not only do three-quarters of Republican voters want the party to stand behind Trump, there’s a potential warning in the data for GOP officeholders like Sen. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), who announced Saturday she wouldn’t vote for him: Fewer than a third of voters are willing to give greater consideration to a candidate who un-endorses Trump."
In fact, there’s evidence that cutting Trump loose could hurt Republicans like Ayotte, at least initially. There’s little to gain from bailing on Trump: While 31 percent of voters say renouncing support for Trump after the newly released video would make them more likely to vote for a Republican candidate, 25 percent say it makes them less likely to vote for that candidate. More than a third, 34 percent, say it doesn’t matter either way.
And GOP voters could be prepared to punish Republicans who bail on Trump: 28 percent said it makes them more likely to vote for a candidate who says they can’t support Trump anymore, but 25 percent say it makes them less likely to vote for that candidate. A 41-percent plurality say it won’t affect their vote.
A similar finding was released moments ago in a parallel CBS poll which found that 91% of Trump supporters' views were unchanged as a result of the tape.
In summary, the polls shows the Friday tape "storm" may have been more of a tempest in a teapot variety, at least when it comes to registered republican voters - naturally democrats would not vote for Trump in any case. Ultimately, the tape's impact will likely be a function of how it is incorporated in tonight's debate. As Politico writes, "while Republican voters are thus far mostly shrugging off Trump’s comments, Sunday’s debate – and Trump’s reaction to questions about what he said and how he feels about and treats women – could reinforce this controversy."
Alternatively, now that Trump has an opening to attack Hillary on her own, and that of Bill's, unique set of family values, this could be the latest controversy that backfires on all those who - once again - promptly wrote Trump off...