Former President Donald Trump not only remains a potent force within the Republican Party, but a new report says he is dominating the early primary race like no one in modern history.
According to polling experts who spoke to The Daily Caller, Trump’s lead in most surveys is so dominant that it has to be disheartening to the rest of the GOP field.
The outlet noted further:
This Republican primary cycle is like none other as the frontrunner is a former president, has a massive lead in the polls, his former vice president is running against him and Trump has two federal indictments under his belt. Polling analysts stressed to the DCNF the stark difference between this GOP primary season and previous cycles, arguing that it’s difficult to draw comparisons in modern history.
“This GOP primary is truly unprecedented because Trump is not technically an incumbent, but Republican voters seem to be treating him as at least a quasi-incumbent,” Kyle Kondik, a polling analyst and managing editor for the nonpartisan Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, told the outlet.
“This primary is similar to 2016 in the sense that the field is large, meaning that it’ll be hard for a non-Trump to consolidate the non-Trump supporters,” he added.
Kondik further observed that the legal challenges faced by the former president also introduce a “unique” aspect to the primary, making it challenging to draw parallels with previous election cycles. The two indictments against Trump may potentially generate “fatigue” within the GOP, resulting in a decline in poll numbers. However, Kondik does not currently detect any indications of dwindling support for him.
In late March, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg indicted the former president on charges of purportedly falsifying business records after repaying to his former attorney, Michael Cohen, $130,000 he made to adult film star actress Stormy Daniels to maintain secrecy about an alleged affair with Trump.
Additionally, in early June, a federal judge in Miami, Florida, indicted Trump for alleged violations of the Espionage Act, as well as other charges such as obstruction and making false statements. The indictments are linked to Special Counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into the alleged mishandling of classified documents.
Jon McHenry, a vice president at North Star Opinion Research and a GOP polling analyst, highlighted the exceptional nature of the Republican primary and emphasized that Trump’s influence in reshaping the party, along with his indictment by the Manhattan district attorney, have significantly contributed to the former president’s strong performance in the polls, the DCNF reported.
“This really is a unique cycle, at least since we’ve used primaries and caucuses as the primary vehicle to nominate our presidential candidates. In that time, we haven’t had an incumbent president lose a reelection and run again, much less lead in the polls,” McHenry told the outlet.
“President Trump’s lead right now is in part a testament to the extent to which he reshaped the party from a conservative party to a populist party,” he added.
McHenry acknowledged that prior to the first indictment, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was performing decently in the polls compared to the former president. However, McHenry also saw a substantial increase in Trump’s support following the indictment.
“With the New York charges, in particular, being seen as politically motivated and questionable legally — with a very different context than holding top secret documents in an unsecure location — the Republicans who might have been ready to move on to a fresh face have at least, for now, rallied back to the former president,” he said.