TAPPING INTO SOMETHING BIGGER THAN THE “TRUMP SURGE”
Another poll was released this week showing billionaire businessman Donald Trump well ahead of his Republican rivals in early-voting South Carolina. In fact the pollsters – from New Jersey’s Monmouth University – expressed little surprise in assessing the outcome of their Palmetto State survey.
“We’ve become accustomed to Donald Trump leading in every poll, as the candidate himself likes to remind us,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.
That’s true. Market Research Foundation (MRF) has previously examined Trump’s rise (and the rise of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders) within the context of rampant voter disaffection and dissatisfaction with Washington, D.C. In fact we’ve done extensive research on what’s motivating this disaffection in several states – including South Carolina.
But within the latest South Carolina data is affirmation of a direct corollary to this trend – namely that it’s driving anti-establishment electoral preferences far beyond the Trump phenomenon. For example, polling in second place in South Carolina (behind Trump’s 30 percent showing) is retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who received the support of 15 percent of likely GOP primary voters. Tied for fourth place in the latest South Carolina survey? Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, who was backed by six percent of likely Republican voters.
Add it up and you’ve got 51 percent of the Palmetto State’s GOP electorate backing a candidate who has never held elected office before. With 11 percent of the state’s primary voters undecided, that leaves the remaining fourteen candidates – all of whom have held elected office – fighting for 38 percent of the vote. In fact if you throw out U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (who is receiving four percent support in his home state), that “establishment candidate” universe dwindles further, to 34 percent.
“Political experience is not a particularly valuable commodity this primary season,” Monmouth’s pollsters noted.
That’s quite an understatement.
Monmouth’s survey noted that 61 percent of respondents want “a president from outside of government who can bring a new approach to Washington” as opposed to only 28 percent who prefer “someone with government experience who knows how to get things done.”
Carson and Fiorina are performing comparably at the national level, too, with the latest data showing them drawing 9.7 percent and 6.3 percent support, respectively. Add that to Trump’s 22 percent and we’re looking at a huge chunk of the GOP electorate that’s firmly in the camp of outsider candidates.
As global economic headwinds intensify – further straining America’s already less-than-robust consumer “recovery” – will the outsiders reap additional electoral benefits? Or can any of the conventional candidates find a way to tap into the prevailing angst?
Count on MRF to keep you posted …