CNN’s Brianna Keilar was shocked Friday by Republicans writing in former President Donald Trump’s name for a poll that had nothing to do with him.
Speaking on CNN’s “The Source,” she explained that the poll was designed to measure President Joe Biden’s chances against non-Trump candidates, but that many voters wrote Trump’s name in anyway, thus kind of corrupting the poll.
“So the latest CNN/University of New Hampshire poll is pretty interesting, because it shows this stubbornness, that we’re seeing, among Republican voters. There are hypothetical match-ups between Biden and other non-Trump Republican candidates,” she said.
“And what it showed was a substantial number of voters essentially ordered off-menu. They wrote in Trump still as their pick. For instance, in this poll of Christie versus Biden, 16 percent told us they would still choose Trump. OK. He’s not on the menu. But they are still choosing him,” she added.
Keilar then asked her guests for their take on this phenomenon.
Her first guest, GOP strategist Alice Stewart, predicted that voters are still making up their minds and may switch away from Trump as time passes.
“Look, they clearly — a lot of Republicans, in New Hampshire, they’re supporters of Donald Trump. And we’re seeing that in the head- to-head match-up, on our CNN poll. Head-to-head Donald Trump versus Joe Biden, actually Biden is doing better, in this one. He’s up 52, and Trump’s at 40. But Trump is the best of the GOP candidates, in New Hampshire,” she said.
“And people, in New Hampshire, are pretty set in their ways. But as we get closer, to the first-in-the-nation primary, they’re still window- shopping. They’re still looking. They’re still going to make up their mind. And more people are going to go out, into New Hampshire, do that retail politics and change minds. And I expect those numbers, in terms of these candidates, against Donald Trump, is going to tighten up, between now and then,” she added.
Keilar’s second guest, former Biden White House communications director Kate Bedingfield, seemed to disagree.
“It’s a reminder, also, just generally, of the fervor, around Donald Trump. So, you see, of course, people are willing to write in, and they’re essentially desperate to say, ‘I will not support anybody but Donald Trump,'” she said.
“But remember, he also engenders that kind of energy, going the other way. He fires up the Democratic base. He’s also really off-putting to a lot of Independents, who may genuinely be deciding how they’re going to vote, this election. So, I think, to me, that’s actually the most interesting thing about this is it just is such a reminder that he energizes voters, in a way nobody else does,” she added.
Their discussion comes amid endless polls showing Trump dominating the dojo. Polling averages maintained by RealClearPolitics show Trump ahead with 57.7 percent of the vote, up by dozens of points from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (12.8 percent). In fact, the 45th president just recorded his highest lead this week.
“A poll released Wednesday shows GOP presidential hopefuls will need to ramp up their messages to voters if they want to catch up to former President Trump in the 2024 primary,” The Hill reported this week.
POLL: Former President Donald Trump holds a 47-point lead in the Republican presidential primary race for his largest cushion since Emerson College Polling began tracking in June 2022. pic.twitter.com/v37Fd7GDEd
— Brad Porcellato (@BradPorcellato) September 20, 2023
“The Emerson College poll found that Trump expanded his lead to 47 points over his GOP rivals — marking his largest lead since the pollster started tracking it in June 2022. Support for the former president’s 2024 bid jumped up by 9 points to 59 percent since last month’s poll.”
Meanwhile, this week NBC News‘ Steve Kornacki published a report noting that it’s been decades since a GOP primary candidate has performed so well — but also noting that Trump’s current advantage may not stick through the whole primary.
“It’s been awhile since a nonincumbent GOP candidate enjoyed polling leads this large and sustained at this point in the campaign. To find a parallel, you have to go back to the fall of 1999, when then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush was sitting on Trump-size leads nationally and in the early states,” he wrote.
“Bush, of course, went on to win the nomination, though not without a real scare. He ended up getting crushed in New Hampshire by John McCain before surviving a make-or-break battle with McCain in South Carolina, only to turn around and suffer an upset defeat in Michigan, and then — finally — steady the ship enough to win a series of big states on Super Tuesday and force McCain’s surrender,” he added.
In other words, he continued, “what looked in the fall of 1999 like a glide path to the GOP nomination turned into a bruising and politically costly primary battle for Bush, one that arguably damaged his image with general election voters and nearly cost him in what ended up being a razor-thin victory over Democrat Al Gore.”
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