Fifty-six percent of Republican and GOP-leaning voters nationally think Donald Trump would make a great or good president. That’s higher than it is for any other GOP candidate. Ted Cruz is the only other one who is seen by a majority of GOP voters (53 percent) as potentially a good or great president.
Apparently describing yourself regularly as great and promising that your presidency will make everything great is enough to lead a nontrivial number of voters to think you’d be a great president. Who knew it could be that easy?
The GOP problem, in a nutshell, is this: Among American voters overall, more (52 percent) see Trump as a “terrible” president than say that about any other candidate. (Forty four percent say that about Hillary Clinton.)
It’s possible Trump’s “greatness” numbers mainly reflect all the media attention that is lavished on Trump’s proclamations of his own greatness, and it’s hard to know whether these numbers will matter at all to the voting that is about to begin. But one thing that has been worth watching for is Republicans coming around to the idea of Trump as their nominee. If a solid majority of GOP voters and GOP-leaning independents sees Trump as a good or great president, that process may well be underway.
Meanwhile, what about the “GOP establishment”? Steve Benen has a good overview of much of the reporting and commentary along these lines, concluding that, while you might have thought that at this stage, “the GOP donor class and its allies would be scrambling, in hair-on-fire desperation” to block Trump, instead “there’s nothing to suggest anything close to this is actually happening.” Jonathan Chait also summarizes much of the resignation to Trump right here. As Rich Lowry recently tweeted, his conversations with GOP establishment figures indicate to him that the mood is now moving from “fear” and “loathing” to “resignation” and “rationalization.”
But if so, how will this unfold? The Hill has a fascinating series of interviews with GOP donors who appear to be warming to the idea of supporting Trump. While the Hill story does say that Trump has a very long way to go before winning over the GOP establishment, it concludes that some Republican donors are “quietly coming around to the idea that Donald Trump could be their party’s nominee for president, adding: “interviews with GOP business owners and CEOs in six states suggest shifting attitudes toward the controversial billionaire.”
This one interview, with Trump donor and Connecticut CEO Robert Bazyk, is particularly noteworthy:
“I don’t agree with all Mr. Trump has said or inferred,” said Bazyk, who supported Romney in 2012 and Jeb Bush’s Right to Rise super-PAC before deciding Trump was his candidate. He has since given the maximum $2,700 to Trump’s campaign.
“I believe in welcoming refugees from all countries, races and religions who are genuinely fleeing religious and political persecution,” Bazyk said. “I also believe the insults and name-calling in politics are as counterproductive as political correctness.”
But Bazyk, like a growing number of his establishment peers, concluded that Trump is the only candidate with the “entrepreneurial spirit” to solve America’s “big problems.”
“Early on, many of my friends and associates, who have supported establishment candidates in the past, spoke of Trump as ‘a joke,'” Bazyk said. “They have recently changed their tune.”
I want to plant a flag on the idea that if Trump does remain a serious contender for the nomination after the voting begins (and that still remains a big, big if), this may be one way that GOP establishment figures come around to supporting him. Many GOP establishment types will have trouble justifying this, given Trump’s wretched demagoguery and xenophobia, something that pragmatic GOP aligned business elites tend to frown upon.
But they can just say that Trump’s various pronouncements (even if these donors personally disagree with them) merely reflect an entrepreneurial and adventurous spirit — they are the inevitable byproduct of thinking big, of a refusal to be constrained by convention, and hey, you know, come to think of it, we could use more of that right about now.