OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Former President Donald Trump not only maintains significant influence within the Republican Party but, according to a recent report, he is also dominating the early primary race in a manner unparalleled in modern history.
Polling experts who spoke to The Daily Caller claimed that Trump’s commanding lead in most surveys is so overwhelming that it must be disheartening for the rest of the GOP contenders.
The outlet noted that the current Republican primary cycle is unlike any other, with a former president leading the race, holding a substantial advantage in the polls, and facing competition from his former vice president. Additionally, Trump carries the weight of two federal indictments.
Polling analysts interviewed by the DC emphasized the significant contrast between this current GOP primary season and previous cycles, arguing that it is challenging to draw direct comparisons in recent memory.
“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 noted further.
Kondik noted further that Trump’s legal challenges have also revealed a “unique” aspect to the current primary season. His indictments could eventually generate “fatigue” within GOP voting ranks resulting in polling declines, but the expert added that he doesn’t see that happening currently.
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, special counsel Jack Smith indicted Trump for alleged violations of the Espionage Act, as well as other charges such as obstruction and making false statements. Smith filed three more charges against Trump late last week and filed new charges against another staffer at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.
Jon McHenry, a vice president at North Star Opinion Research and a GOP polling analyst, underscored the extraordinary nature of the Republican primary by emphasizing that Trump’s impact on reshaping the party, coupled with his indictment by the Manhattan district attorney, has played a substantial role in the former president’s impressive standing in the polls.
“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 told the Daily Caller.
“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.
Nathan Klein, a pollster for OnMessage Inc., told the outlet: “Is there a comparable election? Nope. And that’s fine. The one thing Americans, and especially the GOP primary electorate, don’t want is to do things the way they have been done.”
John McLaughlin, CEO and partner of McLaughlin & Associates, added: “Compared to Trump’s success — on the economy, on national security, on the border, and other issues — Biden’s failures are glaring, and there’s really a lot of buyer’s remorse. President Trump is leading in the national popular vote, and Republicans have not seen that since 2004.”