It’s been a rough few months for Donald Trump in his efforts to appeal to many Republican voters but it looks like they are finally coming home after months of flagging support threatened to put the White House out of reach.
Trump’s candidacy has been deeply divisive within Republican ranks, drawing fire from senior office-holders such as Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), past presidential nominees including Mitt Romney and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), and numerous conservative pundits.
From The Hill
Now, as Republicans face up to the specter of a Hillary Clinton presidency, Trump’s numbers are on the rise. But polling experts caution that he is still a few points shy of where he needs to be.
David Winston, a GOP pollster, noted that the party’s 2012 nominee Mitt Romney received 93 percent support from voters who identified as Republican, according to exit polls. In most current polls, Trump is a notch lower.
“He was pretty consistently — up to a couple of weeks ago — clearly underperforming,” Winston said of Trump. “One of the things you’ve seen is that he has slowly got back to somewhere between 85 and 90 percent [of Republican voters]. But he’s still a bit short.”
Winston said that there had been several factors working in Trump’s favor of late. He said some party loyalists had finally completed the process of “working through the fact that they were unhappy he was the nominee.” Trump has also been relatively disciplined on the campaign trail recently, while Clinton has been pushed onto the defensive by a surprise FBI statement about newly discovered emails.
Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, acknowledged that the GOP nominee had not persuaded all Republican voters, but said he has made progress.
“Reverting to type would assume some normal behavior and we are not seeing that,” Murray said. “But you have seen Trump picking up some support from certain segments of the electorate that tend to vote for Republicans — such as white, working-class women, where Hillary Clinton remains stronger than average [for a Democrat] but Trump has been able to gain.”
Polling data underlines the point.
Two of the main tracking polls, from ABC News/Washington Post and IBD/TIPP, saw Trump moving up within the past couple of weeks.
The first IBD tracking poll appeared on Oct. 19 and showed Trump receiving the support of 82 percent of Republicans. That figure had climbed to 88 percent by Wednesday. The ABC News/ Washington Post tracker first appeared on Oct. 23, giving Trump 83 percent GOP support. He is now up to 88 percent in the same poll.
Similar dynamics are also seen at the state level. Marist College polls of Florida, conducted for NBC News and The Wall Street Journal, show Trump’s Republican support rising from 76 percent in August to 86 percent one month ago, to 88 percent in the most recent survey, conducted just before Clinton was hit with the FBI announcement. In the same organization’s polling of North Carolina, he rose through those same dates from 80 percent to 86 percent to 89 percent.
There are other factors to Trump’s rise among Republicans, insiders say. Key among them is the contribution made by his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.
Pence, with his unimpeachable conservative credentials, has one job above all others: To bring wayward Republicans into the fold.
Marc Short, a senior adviser to the VP nominee, told The Hill that a speech Pence delivered about ObamaCare in Philadelphia Tuesday was as much about ObamaCare as it was about “using ObamaCare as a vehicle to make the appeal for Republicans to come home.”
“Donald Trump has obviously struck a chord with a lot of Americans and has won an enormous amount of independent support — particularly among blue collar workers and people who are fed up with Washington,” Short said.
“But we’re still working to consolidate the Republican Party,” he added. “Mike is uniquely positioned. … He has a lot of friendships and associations and is able to uniquely make the appeal as to why this election cycle is so important and why it’s important for Republicans to come home.”
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