When famed statistician Nate Silver crunches numbers, people pay attention. More so since Silver is relentlessly unbiased. He never takes sides, but only reports on what the numbers are saying.
Today, Silver wants us to pay attention to the fact that Donald Trump is deeply unpopular. If you think that Ted Cruz is nasty, the American people are persuaded that Donald Trump is far nastier.
Silver sounds a note of caution for the Republican “donor class.” He sees it starting to move toward Trump, because it has convinced itself that Trump might be a general election winner.
Silver has his doubts:
One theme in these stories is that the GOP “donor class” seems to have persuaded itself that Trump might not be such a bad general election candidate.
On that point, the donor class is probably wrong.
It’s hard to say exactly how well (or poorly) Trump might fare as the Republican nominee. Partisanship is strong enough in the U.S. that even some of his most ardent detractors in the GOP would come around to support him were he the Republican candidate. Trump has some cunning political instincts, and might not hesitate to shift back to the center if he won the GOP nomination. A recession or a terror attack later this year could work in his favor.
But Trump would start at a disadvantage: Most Americans just really don’t like the guy.
How unpopular is Trump?
Silver offers this:
Contra Rupert Murdoch’s assertion about Trump having crossover appeal, Trump is extraordinarily unpopular with independent voters and Democrats. Gallup polling conducted over the past six weeks found Trump with a -27-percentage-point net favorability rating among independent voters, and a -70-point net rating among Democrats; both marks are easily the worst in the GOP field. (Trump also has less-than-spectacular favorable ratings among his fellow Republicans.)
Here are the Gallup results:
Note that Cruz is seen much more favorably than Trump by Republicans, Independents and Democrats.
This does not date to yesterday. The numbers have been unfavorable from the beginning of the Trump candidacy:
This is not just a recent phenomenon; Trump’s favorability ratings have been consistently poor. It’s true that his favorability numbers improved quite a bit among Republicans once he began running for president. But those gains were almost exactly offset by declines among independents and Democrats. In fact, his overall favorability ratings have been just about unchanged since he began running for president in June:
How does Trump fare on the favorability scale against Hillary? Silver writes:
We’ve got an unpopular set of presidential candidates this year– Bernie Sanders is the only candidate in either party with a net-positive favorability rating — but Trump is the most unpopular of all. His favorability rating is 33 percent, as compared with an unfavorable rating of 58 percent, for a net rating of -25 percentage points. By comparison Hillary Clinton, whose favorability ratings are notoriously poor, has a 42 percent favorable rating against a 50 percent unfavorable rating, for a net of -8 points. Those are bad numbers, but nowhere near as bad as Trump’s.
Ted Cruz has significantly better favorability ratings, but, Silver says, is perceived as extreme. Silver believes that that fact could work against Cruz in the general election.
So, if you were reserving hotel space for the Trump inauguration, it might be worthwhile to pause and take a deep breath.