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“Donald Trump’s Campaign Is Heating Up”... I Call Bullsh!t.

In recent weeks I’ve seen headlines reading “Trump lead grows following indictment”, or “Trump expands lead over GOP field”… While technically Trump may be ‘expanding his lead’ over DeSantis, this isn’t because Trump’s campaign is doing well, but rather DeSantis’ campaign is having a no good, very bad summer.

DeSantis Struggles

First off, let’s admit that in any event, the ‘winner’ can win while not doing well. What I mean by that is that a team can have a bunch of unforced errors, do unusually terrible, but still come out ahead because the opposition sucked worse than they did… This is what’s happening with the Trump campaign right now.

I put together a graph of all the polls the Economist/YouGov has done on DeSantis’ favorability since the beginning of the year. I also threw in trendlines to highlight my point… The red dotted line below shows the growing trend of DeSantis’ ‘unfavorability’. The green shows what has happened to his ‘favorability’. And the gray: those who are unsure how they feel about him.

Since the beginning of the year, the more people have learned about DeSantis, the more unfavorable they find him.

(If you don’t care for the Economist/YouGov poll, hop on an aggregate site and look at DeSantis’ favorability ratio from 6 months ago to today… it won’t be good.)

Also, DeSantis announced his candidacy on May 24th, right around the time his favorability rating sank to net negatives… Now yes, this is among all registered voters, however, among registered Republicans, or those likely to vote in a Republican primary, DeSantis’ favorability rating is still south of Trump’s… And neither are doing that great among their own party. (In the latest Economist/YouGov, 73% of Republicans have a favorable opinion of DeSantis, while 75% of Republicans have a favorable opinion of Trump… In contrast, Biden’s favorability among Democrats is 8 points higher than Trump’s among Republicans.)

BUT PLEASE DO NOT FORGET – this isn’t a race to see who will win the Republican primary; it’s a race to see who will win the Presidency. I get that people say “Well right now, all I care about is how he’s doing among registered Republicans”… Why? … He’s running for President, not president of registered Republicans.

Trump’s Post-Indictment Troubles

Ok, so DeSantis’ campaign is stuck in a hyper-Florida-talking-point rut that isn’t translating nationwide. I get it. But if you were to look at Trump’s voteshare on RealClearPolitics among Republicans over the past month, it’s also not good.

Trump was indicted on June 8th, meaning any poll ‘post’ indictment wouldn’t really come out until after about the 10th … What has happened to Trump’s voteshare among Republicans since then? Well according to RealClearPolitics' aggregate of polls, it’s dropped about 3 points.

This isn’t Trump’s biggest problem either…

Trump’s Troubles Ahead

A more troubling trend for Trump is that he lacks ‘soft’ voters. All other viable Republican candidates in the field have more Republican voters thinking they ‘might’ vote for them than Donald Trump (according to the most recent Fox News poll).

In looking at NBC’s latest poll (conducted by Hart/POS), only 12% of Republican primary voters choose Trump as their 2nd choice candidate.

All of this is to say: Donald Trump is losing Republican voteshare – and also doesn’t have a large Republican primary voter pool to refilith his cup… When he loses that voteshare, man, it’s gone. (See Jack Handy Deep Thoughts regarding dropping your keys into a river of molten lava.)

The Bottom Line

Trump is dominating the Republican field. But it’s still early – at this time in 2015, Jeb Bush was leading the field. Hell, Ben Carson had the lead for a moment in November leading into the primaries.

And even though he’s leading the Republican field, it’s hard to say Trump’s campaign is doing well. His voteshare among Republican primary voters has slipped over the last month, his ‘soft’ support is lacking, and his main talking point is about how the current second place vote-getter is doing terribly.

At the end of the day this isn’t a race to the right. This isn’t about winning the Republican primary even if it means turning off 60% of the electorate… Yes, it’s about solidifying your base, but it’s also about growing your voteshare, expanding the electorate, improving your favorability: all campaign aspects required to win the Presidency… And campaign aspects which one after the other, Trump’s campaign is struggling with.

(and note: no, I don’t care how Trump is doing against Biden 485 days before election, among registered voters, nationwide…)


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