Donald Trump’s dominance has obscured just how unpopular he is outside of the conservative bubble. Even among Republican voters, if you dig a little deeper, you find that Trump has serious problems. Nate Silver elaborates: “Trump has consistently had the plurality of Republican support in polls, but those same polls suggest that Trump faces unusually high resistance from voters who don’t have him as their first choice…Many of them would be unhappy with a Trump nomination, more than is typical for a polling front-runner.”
In short, Trump is extremely popular with his base, but deeply disliked by everyone else. Republican voters who have supported Cruz or Rubio or Kasich will not reliably unite behind Trump in November – that’s a problem for the GOP. Now that Cruz and Kasich are backing away from their pledge to support Trump if he wins the nomination, the landscape is even more challenging.
It’s worse if you extend the analysis to include the broader electorate. As The Washington Post reports, “If Donald Trump secures the Republican presidential nomination, he would start the general election campaign as the least-popular candidate to represent either party in modern times…Three-quarters of women view him unfavorably. So do nearly two-thirds of independents, 80 percent of young adults, 85 percent of Hispanics and nearly half of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents.”
These are daunting numbers. There is no discernible path to the White House for Trump against this kind of resistance. In the 32 years the Washington Post-ABC News survey has been tracking candidates, no major-party nominee has produced unfavorability scores like this.