Sunday, May 8, 2011

Most Republicans Believe Trump's Candidacy Is A Publicity Stunt

Since his "media honeymoon" ended a few weeks ago, it seems Trump has been the recipient of a never-ending supply of bad news: Polls showing Republicans opposed to him, polls showing the general electorate opposed to him, polls showing his New Hampshire competitor Romney with much better poll numbers than his, fumbling during interviews, being mocked at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, and a failure to pivot off of the birth certificate issue.

As explained in Trump's Profile, his two main challenges are to convince Republicans that he is a conservative and that he is electable. But most voters doubt the Trump is even a serious candidate: According to a new Rasmussen poll, 61% of Americans believe Trump is seeking publicity rather than actually running for president. This includes 56% of Republicans.

The numbers reflect ill will toward Trump among the electorate. People who want to vote for Trump are more likely to believe he is running; Republicans who believe Trump is faking it hope Trump is faking it. They fear Trump will make the primary into a circus and embarrass the Party. Or worse, that he will get the nomination and hand Obama an easy victory.

There is a small glimmer of hope for Trump here: If and when he actually does run for president, people may view him differently. He may get a second wind. He badly needs another chance to convince Republicans that he is for real.

After Obama released his birth certificate, Trump had an opportunity to move on to something more substantive. But events did not cooperate: After Trump was humiliated at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, Osama bin Laden was killed. This effectively sucked away all of the media oxygen. Even Trump, with his well-honed ability to get TV time for himself, could not hope to get on the air to talk about China or OPEC in such an environment. Trump's disappearance from the media leaves people with the impression that he is broken and in full retreat.

In politics, memories are short. You may be down, but you are almost never out. Comebacks happen all the time. But until Trump proves himself capable of gaining perceived conservatism and perceived electability, his odds of victory remain slim. Elephant Watcher calculates Trump has a 1% chance of winning the nomination.