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Why Donald Trump Is Heavily Favored to Win the Republican Nomination
Trump Has Crossed Two Very Historically Significant Milestones
May 11, 2023
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I'll be discussion this subject matter in a lot more detail in the coming days on Inside The Numbers, but it's noteworthy and needed to be introduced in an article on Locals. After all, Locals First!

Donald Trump has secured more than 60 endorsements from "elected" Republicans holding national and gubernatorial office. I've heard it's possible he'll get to 70 by the end of this week. Why does that matter, given he didn't win with endorsements in 2015-2016?

For starters, he did better with endorsements than most people realize. Many early backers were unconventional endorsements, i.e. celebrities, sports figures, etc. But that's not the central point. No candidate in over four decades has ever gone on to lose their party nomination with this many endorsements at this point.

Yes, even this early in the nomination process.

As I have stated over and over—despite what you hear from DeSantis supporters on Fox News and Twitter—it is not true early frontrunners do not end up securing their party nominations, especially not when you can arguably consider Trump an incumbent rather than a non-incumbent.

The former president is certainly a known quantity on the national stage and there is no uncertainty over whether he will weather the scrunity that comes from being a top-tier candidate, both being key benefits of incumbency. But let's pretend for this discussion that we cannot and do not consider him an incumbent.

Regarding the polling, it's a little more complicated, though we're dealing with the same flawed assumptions among DeSantis surrogates and the timeframe is technically the same. While it's true declared and potential candidates polling at around 20% at this point typically have a roughly 20% chance of winning the nomination, there are mitigating factors at play this time.

Trump's polling lead is not historically normal even for a frontrunner. His dominance in our latest poll is a strong indication people are digging in their heels, as are the interviews I monitor, mode-depending. Some of them I've shared with all of you during the live show. No non-incumbent candidate polling at or above 50% at this point has lost the nomination in the modern era.

Yes, even this early in the nomination process.

The oft-cited analogy to Rudy Giuliani is grossly flawed. He never polled at these levels and in truth struggled to hold even a third of the primary vote before he lost the lead and eventually the nomination. The same is true of the equally cited example of Hillary Clinton in 2008.

DeSantis' roughly 20% historical likelihood for prior candidates polling at roughly 20% is essentially rendered irrelevant by the fact Trump is at 50% or higher. The window to seize on an opportunity to consolidate anti-frontrunner support has all but closed, if it hasn't been shut altogether. It's no longer a question of persuading Trump-fatigued voters.

Now, Trump's primary opponent must change decided voters' minds, a far more difficult task.

The Republican primary electorate is not a general election electorate. Working class voters will play deciding roles in several key early states. In our latest poll, Trump now enjoys his largest lead yet among this group, an astonishing 54 points, or 64.8% to 10.9%. Among white working class, it's an eye-popping 58 points, 69.2% to 11.4%. To put it plainly, not enough of these voters are going to change their minds. His lead hasn't fallen below 30 points with this demographic to date.

That leaves the only viable path to defeating Trump one that requires dominating among college educated primary voters, which still requires a tightening among non-college voters. But even among college educated primary voters, Trump's support has steadily improved since January 2023. He now leads with college voters by a margin that mirrors his floor with non-college voters.

And it's not just the polling.

The endorsement milestone is significant because there are not one BUT two key indicators for predicting presidential nominations heavily favoring the former president. Endorsements tend to snowball, hence the major endorsement from NRSC Chair Senator Steve Daines of Montana.

That all being said, it's unclear what they will throw at this guy next. It's possible one of these ahistorical legal attacks finally land a blow. But the Limbaugh Rule has held for nearly 7 years, and we should all be very skeptical of any outside influence's ability to break the deep connection Trump has with Republican voters. If he remains loyal to them, there's little reason—as in, we have zero reason—to believe they won't remain loyal to him.

P.S. I've added more to the crosstabs for the Polling Project May 2023. It's linked below for supporters.

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Private sector unions who claimed to have voted for President Biden 54.6% to 37.0% now only back him 51.5% to 48.5%, a significantly narrower margin fueled by both a decline in support for the current president and a significant gain in support for the former. The margin among all union households is starting to more closely resemble 2016 than 2020. Considering the survey overstated support for the Democratic candidate, there is a good argument to make that President Trump is now performing even stronger against President Biden than he did against Mrs. Clinton among union households.
 
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