If there was any doubt left about Trump’s sway over an influential part of the Republican primary electorate, fresh new evidence points to his staying power in the GOP field.
Trump led among likely Republican voters in Nevada with 38% support, while he garnered 36% of the Republican vote in South Carolina. Those two states are the third and fourth, respectively, on the primary schedule.
Trump’s lead in the states put him significantly ahead of his nearest competitor, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson. He grabbed 22% support in Nevada and 18% in South Carolina. No other candidates breached single digits in either state.
With each new poll, it has becoming increasingly apparent that Trump remains the Republican front-runner nationally and in the first four nominating states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada. His support among a core group of primary voters is legitimate and, at least in some states, has been expanding.
To this point, various pollsters and political analysts have written off Trump’s domination in polls as a product of name recognition – which, with still more than a year until the election, isn’t predictive of an eventual win.
But several recent indicators have pointed against that argument.
A CBS poll earlier this week, for example, found that 42% of voters surveyed reported paying “a lot” of attention to the presidential race, up from 36% last month. CBS reported that October’s percentage is notably higher than in the past two election cycles.
Voters also reported that they are much more interested in the presidential contest at this point than they were in the 2012 race. The CBS poll found that 70% of voters said they found this presidential race “interesting.” That marked a huge jump from the 40% who reported that the presidential race was interesting in at this point in the 2012 election cycle.
The CNN poll found that an increasing amount of Republicans feel Trump is the party’s best candidate on key issues, including the economy and immigration. Even among voters who do not support Trump, many believe that he would still handle economic issues better than any other candidate.
Many experts still doubt that Trump will be the eventual nominee, though they have noted his support increasingly appears to have staying power.
Princeton University polling expert Sam Wang said that though Trump may have hit his ceiling, his consistent support in the polls shows that the real-estate magnate’s followers are genuinely interested in him.
“One test is if a candidate lasts longer: Donald Trump’s rise passes this test. A contrast is Carly Fiorina, who has fallen substantially and looks more like a transient candidate, perhaps driven by media attention,” Wang told Business Insider.
“Trump does have the additional problem that he has some ceiling of support because of his negatives. As a speculation, I think he might persist in the 20-30% range for some time, and that another candidate could pull ahead of that objectively low number. If so, this would be reminiscent of Pat Buchanan’s most successful presidential candidacy in 1996.”