It's Wrong to Call Donald Trump a 'Fringe' Candidate

A new Bloomberg Politics poll of Republican and Republican-leaning voters demolishes the claim that he appeals to mouth-breathing xenophobes and nobody else.

Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump Visits His Scottish Golf Course

Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump visits his Scottish golf course Turnberry with his children Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump on July 30, 2015 in Ayr, Scotland. Donald Trump answered questions from the media at a press conference.

Photographer: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s rise to a position of total dominance in the Republican presidential field has been accompanied by a dismissive snort from Beltway mandarins that Trump is merely a “fringe” candidate. The idea, in essence, is that Trump has a strong but narrow appeal to a group of mouth-breathing xenophobes and practically nobody else.

But a new Bloomberg Politics poll of Republican and Republican-leaning voters demolishes this claim. Trump not only laps the competition—he has twice the support of the second-place candidate, Jeb Bush (21 percent to 10 percent)—but he also leads among every demographic subgroup, but one (self-identified “moderates”). 

Let’s break it down. Trump leads with male voters (Trump 24 percent, Bush 11 percent, Walker 10 percent) and female voters (Trump 18 percent, Bush 10 percent, Huckabee 10 percent). He leads with voters younger than 45 (Trump 15 percent, Bush 10 percent, Rubio and Paul at 9 percent) and voters older than 45 (Trump 25 percent, Bush 11 percent, Walker 9 percent) and seniors (Trump 23 percent, Bush 14 percent, Walker 9 percent).

Trump wins voters with no more than a high school degree (Trump 27 percent, Huckabee 13 percent, Bush 11 percent) and voters with a college degree (Trump 19 percent, Walker 12 percent, Bush 11 percent). He leads among affluent voters who earn $100,000 or more annually (Trump 18 percent, Bush 14 percent, Walker 13 percent) and those who make less than $50,000 a year (Trump 19 percent, Bush 11 percent, Walker 9 percent).

The thrice-married Trump, who recently told a Christian forum that he “never” asks God for forgiveness, wins “born-again” voters (Trump 16 percent, Huckabee 14 percent), as well as Catholics (Trump 27 percent, Rubio 9 percent) and Protestants (Trump 18 percent, Bush 12 percent). And he also wins “Tea Party” conservatives (Trump 24 percent, Walker 11 percent).

The only demographic category Trump does not win is self-professed moderate voters. But even here, Trump who is often said to horrify moderate Republicans, is a narrow second choice: Bush leads with 20 percent, followed by Trump with 19 percent. Nobody else is even close.

It’s true that the poll’s sample size for these subgroups is small enough that there’s a notable margin of error for each of these subgroups—between plus-or-minus 7 and 9 percentage points, by my math. It’s also true that Thursday’s debate could alter opinions. But taken in sum, it’s impossible to avoid the clear conclusion that Trump exerts a powerful appeal to every segment of the Republican Party, including even moderate voters.

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