Real Clear Politics has a great new feature up, comparing the polling of the last three Presidential Cycles. I don’t think the RCP team could ever admit it, but the message is clear: “Don’t panic about Donald Trump.”
The more I look at it, the more I’m convinced that as good as Trump’s polling looks, it doesn’t yet mean nearly as much as he wants it to. He could easily be this cycle’s Rudy Giuliani: the loud New Yorker who’s fine with funding Planned Parenthood, captures the New York media, but never actually gets people to come vote for him.
Their issues are different (Giuliani famously would tie every issue he could with 9/11, while Trump loves to rant about Mexican rapists and Chaiy-na), but the fundamentals of their candidacies are similar.
First off, they had great name recognition. Looking back at 2007 Fox polling, Giuliani went over 90% after 9/11, and by June 2007 only 3% had never heard of him. Over twice as may voters had never heard of [mc_name name=’Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’M000303′ ], Fred Thompson, Mitt Romney, and Mike Huckabee were all in double digits. Hard to get early support from voters who don’t know who you are.
Contrast with the latest Fox poll. They aren’t polling straight favorability, but they are asking about trustworthiness. Right now, Ben Carson is in double digit ‘don’t know’ territory, as are [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ] and [mc_name name=’Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’R000595′ ]. The only candidates in single digits? Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
Further, the center of the news media world is New York City. Most of the TV networks are based there, the New York Times obviously is there, Saturday Night Live, you name it. New York is at least as important to the news media, as Los Angeles is to the entertainment media. And the New Yorkers know Trump the same way they knew Giuliani. He’s a local figure, and they love to talk about their local figures. It’s the same way Connecticut-based ESPN takes every opportunity to yap about Yankees vs Red Sox, since they’re right on the border between the two fandoms.
The two candidacies also have one yuge thing in common: the candidates themselves have reputations for being tough fighters. “It doesn’t matter if he’s pro-abortion, he’ll be a great President because he’ll take the fight to the terrorists and the Democrats,” was basically the argument for Giuliani in 2008. “It doesn’t matter if he’s a cronyist who wants to fund Planned Parenthood, he’ll take the fight to the foreigners and the Democrats,” is basically the argument for Trump in 2016.
It turned out that for Giuliani, being a widely-known figure who fights, wasn’t enough to get people to show up and vote for him. Dan McLaughlin has taken to posting on Twitter “KEEP CALM. IT WON’T BE TRUMP.” He could easily be right.