Dem 51
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GOP 49
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...And So Is Donald Trump...

As we note above, we (and, indirectly, the op-ed writers of The Washington Post) think that Joe Biden is running the exact campaign he needs to be running right now. There was no equivalent WaPo piece for Donald Trump but, since we are on the subject, we'll say that we think he is running the exact campaign he needs to be running right now, too.

Like Biden, Trump is a massive frontrunner. Unlike Biden, Trump has at least one rival he has to keep an eye upon. And the former president has done a very effective job of maintaining his right-wing populist shtick while also taking Ron DeSantis down a few pegs. Most of the time, the former president's attacks on the Governor are personal in nature (e.g., "Ron DeSanctimonious"). Sometimes, Trump focuses on actual policy and governance shortcomings, like what's going on with homeowners' insurance in the Sunshine State right now (see below). And the proof is in the pudding. Yesterday, there was a new Siena College/New York Times that was absolutely stellar for Trump and absolutely brutal for DeSantis.

We'll start with the topline numbers. When all of the candidates are in the picture, Trump has the support of 54% of respondents. That's enough to claim virtually every delegate, of course. DeSantis is the only meaningful challenger, though he's closer to the pack than he is to the former president, with 17% support. No other candidate polled above 3%. Meanwhile, what happens if every other candidate is removed from the equation, and it's just Trump vs. DeSantis? Does the non-Trump vote coalesce behind the Governor? Not so much. In that condition, Trump leads DeSantis 61% to 32%.

Also interesting are the questions about Trump's (alleged) criminality. According to the pollster, among Republicans whose main source of "news" is Fox, a staggering 91% say the former president has not "committed serious federal crimes," while only 5% say he has. Further, 85% of Fox viewers said the Republican Party must stand behind Trump. Numbers like these might just explain why Ronna Romney McDaniel and Rupert Murdoch continue to kowtow to Trump—what other option is there? Among Republicans who consume a broader variety of news, by contrast, 38% think Trump committed serious crimes, while only 49% want the Party to stand behind him. However, folks like that are in the minority in the GOP. Needless to say, if a person thinks Trump is innocent, and that various indictments, etc., are just witch hunts, then it helps explain why every time he gets into deeper trouble, his numbers go up.

And finally, the most interesting numbers are actually in the crosstabs. The pollster asked about various qualities, and whether Trump or DeSantis embodies them the most. Here are the results:

Quality Trump DeSantis Margin
Strong Leader 69% 22% Trump +47%
Moral 37% 45% DeSantis +8%
Likable 43% 45% DeSantis +2%
Can Beat Joe Biden 58% 28% Trump +30%
Gets Things Done 67% 22% Trump +45%
Fun 54% 16% Trump +38%

That is just ghastly for DeSantis. First, the Governor only comes out ahead in two categories, and just barely in those. And "a bit more moral than Donald Trump" is not exactly a feather for one's cap. Second, in the categories Trump comes out ahead, he does so by a mile. And they are largely the things that Republican voters care most about, like being strong. Finally, don't forget that DeSantis' whole pitch is "I'm Trumpy, except I actually get things done." Well, DeSantis is down 45 points in "Gets Things Done." So much for that.

It is entirely possible that Trump could run any campaign, or no campaign at all, and he'd still be leaving Snow DeSantis and the seven dwarfs in the dust. We can't know that, but what we can know is that the former president has a hammerlock on the nomination right now, and that it's hard to see what might change that, short of his death. (Z)

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