Trump, The Others, and A New Test of the Hypothesis

A couple of days ago I assimilated data from a bunch of on line polls where people could informally and unscientifically express their opinion about who won the GOP debate (the big boy debate only, with ten candidates). I suggested a series of hypotheses to isolate the idea that this sort of on line unscientific effort might reflect reality, with the idea of testing the results of those polls with upcoming formal polls.

Now we have a couple of formal polls to test against. I took the raw percentages for the ten GOP big boy debate candidates, recalculated the percentages, and came up with the standings of those candidates in the more recent scientifically done polls. The polls are by Bloomberg and WMUR. The former is national, the latter pertains to New Hampshire, which will have a key early primary. Here is the relevant graphic:

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 10.50.08 AM

We see verification of Trump being in the lead. His performance during the debate was liked by a large majority, and he is the leader of the pack, still by a large majority, by those subsequently polled. What appears to be a drop is more a factor of the difference between asking who won the debate vs. who one would vote for.

There is a big difference, though, in the back field. Bush and Walker were in the lower tier of the back field in people's response to the debate, but are moving into a shared second place.

So, two things. First, Trump is still winning, and really is winning, the GOP race. Second, unscientific online polls seem in this case meaningful. The polls initially gave uncannily similar (not random) results, and the application of a more scientific methodology verifies them.

I quickly add this. This is not a prediction of who will win the GOP nomination, or who will win the election for President.

Nate Silver makes some excellent points about this question in this blog post. The bottom line is that polling at this stage, or even well into the primary process, does not predict either outcome very well. But I think Silver also misses an important point. These polls are not meaningless. If you view them as having only one function, predicting primary or general election outcomes, they are useless. But they do something else.

Polling at this stage in a presidential race is not about who is going to be President. Rather, such information is a good indicator of what people are thinking, how the politics are operating, how campaigns are doing, what issues are motivating people, and all that stuff. If you see polls early in the process this way, they are interesting. If you want to know who will be on the ballot in November (next November, not this November) or who will win, then ... well, no.

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It will be interesting to see if the GOP "leadership" finds a way to prevent Trump from winning the primaries (I don't know enough about your system to know if that's possible.) As Trump has not ruled out a run as an Independent I hope the GOP will find a way and that he then does run as an Independent - neatly splitting the right's vote and giving the election to the Democrats. After yesterday's rally for Bernie in Portland OR (28K attendance) Hillary must be very worried. Bernie's numbers just keep going up, her's not so much. If the election comes down to Bernie, Trump, and toss a coin for the GOP, Bernie's going to walk away with it if his momentum keeps going and he's not assassinated.

By Douglas C Alder (not verified) on 11 Aug 2015 #permalink

In a discussion I was asked why not Trump? Don't you like the idea of some stating his ideas right up front?
My reply was yes if they are factual and true.
A lot of people like the Trump laud up front BS, but it is still BS.

Doug, exactly. The GOP has a lot of tools in its kit for voter suppression. Are they prepared to use these on themselves???

You may be able to add "And tends to define the current Overton Window" to your list...

By Brainstorms (not verified) on 11 Aug 2015 #permalink

But they don't *care* if it's BS, as long as it's the same BS that they cherish in their own hearts & minds.

What's scary is that those folks are allowed to vote.

By Brainstorms (not verified) on 11 Aug 2015 #permalink

"But they don’t *care* if it’s BS, as long as it’s the same BS that they cherish in their own hearts & minds"

Exactly. I don't think the problem the GOP has with Trump is what he's been saying, it's that he's been saying it so bluntly.

A few weeks ago when my wife's Texas cousins showed up at a family picnic raving about Trump. "He's the only one telling the truth!" I let it go. Why fight at a picnic? But more and more I see otherwise intelligent people that take Trump seriously.

It occurs to me that Trump cannot lose. He probably will not be the GOP nominee, but in the long game, he is adding luster to what seemed to be a worn-out character. They may have cancelled Apprentice, but Trump is now getting far more screen time than he did from a once-a-week show. And a third-party run - playing spoiler - will keep him there until the election. He saw how much mileage Palin got for being "all mavericky," so he'll do the same thing until everyone stops listening. And he'll still be rich.

"... it’s that he’s been saying it so bluntly."

Yeah, that makes the stuffed shirts uncomfortable ("He's exposing our dirty secrets!"), but the Base is all excited and turned on that he's revealing their emperor's lack of (decency) clothing.

More popcorn, please...

By Brainstorms (not verified) on 11 Aug 2015 #permalink

I find it deeply disturbing that so many on the right take this man seriously as a potential leader that would inherit the most powerful office on the planet, with the power to affect (destroy?) the world's economy and diplomatic and political relations for decades. There is nothing in his background or character that bodes well for the possibility of him being anything other than a joke and embarrassment for the U.S. in the eyes of the rest of the world and domestically.
Maybe this is all just a way for conservatives to temporarily blow off some steam because they are rightly sick to death of the politics as usual from their tribe. And like any good bender, they will get it out of their system, sober up, and get back to real life on Monday morning...albeit with a shiner, a permanent marker mustache, and a promise of "Good god! I'll never do THAT again!!!".

By skeptictmac57 (not verified) on 11 Aug 2015 #permalink

er... day not say in that last one

Greg #3 - It's really going to depend on Trump's momentum I'd say. It's going to be a real bind for them - go with their Koch et. al. overlords, in which case I don't doubt they use some kind of voter suppression tools if they can, or if it looks like Trump is going to sweep the GOP votes then they'll probably go with him to give themselves a "shot" at the presidency. The real task is if they do go with him can they convince the MSM to play ball with them. I suspect that won't happen (play ball) as the entertainment value of Trump will be too big a target for them to overlook. The same thing is already starting o happen with Bernie - he's getting more and more MSM coverage because of his appeal, and it is increasingly positive (in a relative manner) - still not up to what Hillary gets but he's getting there.

I so want Bernie to be the one representing the Democrats in this race as it would be a massive slap in the face to our asinine (I'm trying to be polite) "leader" Stephen Harper. Not to mention he wold be an awesome president - his views are all in the right place.

By Douglas C Alder (not verified) on 11 Aug 2015 #permalink

I've predicted in other venues that Trump's popularity will fade early and he will not win the GOP nomination. (Whether he will decide to run on a third-party ticket I have no idea.)

In comparison with Ross Perot, I think he comes off second best. Perot made a big splash too, but ended up going nowhere in the presidential race.

Nate Silver reinforces this assessment in Trump's six stages of doom

By Christopher Winter (not verified) on 11 Aug 2015 #permalink

Appalling and fascinating, the enabling of sociopathy and vulgarity in the public sphere. Does not bode well for our future, the idea that standing in the middle of a room and throwing a tantrum will fix things.

Main reason I'm here, though, is to present an idea I had, which is that Monckton and Trump are cut from the same cloth, and very shoddy cloth it is!

By Susan Anderson (not verified) on 12 Aug 2015 #permalink

So, can Monckton be a vice presidential candidate? Or maybe Trump will go and join the British Peerage.

While I concur Mister Trump is little more than Cthulhu with a tentacle combover, t alk of a viscount as the next Speaker of the House should be suspended while we address the sixty four dollar qestion of currency reform.

Recent biographies of that great hero of the American Revolution, Marquis de Lafayette make clear who made the greatest contribution to France's critical support of our infant republic.

Only one matriarch is fit to replace Alexander Hamilton on the ten dollar bill , the one who assured American victory by hastening the diversion of deGrasse's fleet to Yorktown:

Marie Antoinette.

By Russell Seitz (not verified) on 12 Aug 2015 #permalink