For Republicans who hoped that Donald Trump’s irreverent remarks about John McCain would signal the end of his campaign, the latest poll figures suggest they may be disappointed. After Trump questioned whether or not McCain deserved to be honored as a “war hero,” the media did everything possible to use it against him. Finally, they thought, he had gone too far.
If anything, though, Trump appears to enjoy more support than ever. According to two brand new polls, the real estate mogul is well on his way to securing the nomination. A CNN survey finds that Trump sits atop the Republican field with 18 percent of registered primary voters favoring him. He’s followed by Jeb Bush with 15 percent and Scott Walker with 10. Trump also leads in New Hampshire, according to a separate poll conducted by NBC News.
“There is a movement going on. This is more than me,” Trump said on CNN’s State of the Union. “People are tired of these incompetent politicians in Washington that can’t get anything done.”
Trump is right on the money when he says that this movement is about something bigger than himself. For the first time in a long time, a presidential contender has tossed aside all the careful calculations, all the politically-correct phrases, and all the pat responses. Conservatives are desperate for someone who will get up on a national soapbox and tell it like it is.
The base isn’t going to come out for Jeb Bush. Voting is an inconvenience, and there’s no point in making the effort if the outcome is predetermined. For many conservatives, a vote for Bush would be nothing more than a vote against Hillary Clinton. And quite a few voters are wondering if there’s any measurable difference between them.
Republicans have made this mess themselves. Donald Trump is payback for the broken promises of the 2014 congressional election. Conservatives came out en masse to stop Obama’s agenda. And after a couple of months of celebrating, we soon realized that we hadn’t stopped a thing. The betrayal was thorough and spiteful. And now the establishment is getting their just rewards.
Is Trump for real? Does he actually have the slightest chance of winning this thing? Can he defeat Clinton? Can he lead?
These are the questions Republicans must ponder as the primary season deepens. But no matter how it all turns out, Trump’s presence in the election will not soon be forgotten. Conservatives have gotten a taste of what it’s like to actually be excited about a candidate for the first time in ages.