Jay Bookman

Opinion columnist and blogger with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, specializing in foreign relations, environmental and technology-related issues

Is the Donald Trump ceiling now the GOP nomination?


"I've been saying for two weeks now, three weeks, that we've seen peak Trump. I really thought he would plateau and start to fade. I was certainly wrong for the past two weeks, when he was still moving up in the polls, but I kinda really do think now that we've seen peak Trump."

-- Bill Kristol, Aug. 6, 2015


"Since that Sept. 16 debate, as measured by the RealClearPolitics polling average, Mr. Trump has lost about a quarter of his support, down to 23 percent from 30 percent on the eve of the debate. In this week’s Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, he is at 21 percent. It’s not going to get better. The Trump numbers are going to drift sideways, or fall."

Daniel Henninger, Wall Street Journal, Sept. 30, 2015


"I have to tell you, this was an amazing debate performance (by Trump). Amazing not because it was effective, but amazing because I saw the destruction of a presidential campaign over those two hours. It really was remarkable."

-- Frank Luntz, Aug. 7, 2015, after a GOP debate in which Trump insulted Fox anchor Megyn Kelly and refused to refrain from an independent run


"No one — with the possible exception of Donald Trump — believes that Trump is going to be the 2016 GOP presidential nominee.  The 18 percent that Trump is drawing in the poll average at Real Clear Politics is probably pretty close to his ceiling."

-- Jay Bookman, AJC, July 22, 2015


Ahem. Everytime you think Trump has hit his ceiling, he adds another story to the building. At this rate his ceiling may be the GOP nomination.

In a new Monmouth University poll released Monday, the first national poll conducted after his remarks on banning Muslims, Donald Trump pulled 41 percent of the vote, 13 percentage points higher than in October. Ted Cruz ranks second at 14 percent, with Marco Rubio (10 percent) and Ben Carson (9 percent) comprising the rest of the second tier. Nobody else has more percentage points than Trump has marriages (3).

“It has become abundantly clear that Trump is giving his supporters exactly what they want, even if what he says causes the GOP leadership and many Republican voters to cringe” Monmouth polling director Patrick Murray said.¹

But hey, maybe that Monmouth poll was just an outlier. Maybe ...

Nope.  This morning, a fresh ABC/Washington Post poll puts Trump at 38 percent, up from 32 percent a month ago. Cruz is at 15 percent, and Rubio and a fast-fading Carson are tied at 12.

It's just crazy. Asked which GOP candidate is most likely to win in November, 47 percent of Republicans say Trump, with Rubio and Cruz well behind. Asked who is most honest, 23 percent name Trump, compared to 24 percent who name Carson. Trump also leads when GOP voters are asked who has the best temperament to be president.

Did I mention this is crazy?²

In the ABC/WaPo poll, Trump does particularly well among white males with no college degree, although it should be pointed out that even among women and those who do have a college degree, he holds significant leads.

Among voters overall -- including Democrats and independents -- just 28 percent say they believe that mainstream Islam encourages violence, while 54 percent believe it is a peaceful religion. But Trump has a huge lead among those Republicans who believe Islam encourages violence, with Cruz doing well in that group as well. So I won't be surprised to see a Muslim bashfest in tonight's presidential debate on CNN.


¹ Jeb Bush, by the way, continues to tank. In a Monmouth poll taken a year ago, 30 percent of Republicans had an unfavorable impression of the former First Brother. After spending millions of dollars on TV advertising and other efforrts, he has succeeded in driving his unfavorable rating within his own party up to 47 percent. (Trump's unfavorable rating among Republicans has fallen from 55 percent in April to 29 percent today.)

In short, Bush's campaign continues to exist for the sole purpose of spending all the money that it succeeded in raising initially.

² Trump has a similar lead here in Georgia. According to a Landmark poll released Friday, 43 percent of Georgia Republicans back the New York City developer, with Cruz second at 16 percent. Some 72 percent of Georgia Republicans say they support Trump's proposal to ban Muslim immigrants.

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About the Author

Jay Bookman writes about government and politics, with an occasional foray into other aspects of life as time, space and opportunity allow.