Donald Trump’s bubble: How much expansion before it pops?

The rare flannel moth that looks like Donald Trump's hair.

The rare flannel moth that looks like Donald Trump’s hair.

Political journalists were caught off-guard by a poll showing real estate developer Donald Trump gaining ground in the race for the 2016 GOP nomination for president.

A recent Suffolk University poll puts The Donald in second place with New Hampshire voters, with nearly 11 percent support, behind former Florida Gov. Jeb! Bush, who has more than 14 percent.

Trump, who also can be described as a reality TV show host, supreme egotist, and blowhard, received widespread publicity for his performance-artist-like campaign announcement. “Vanity project” doesn’t even begin to describe Trump’s supposed run for the presidency. He droned on for 45 minutes in his speech in the New York building bearing his name. To make it look as if he has actual supporters, a talent agency paid out-of-work actors $50 each to hold signs and cheer.

Trump says he’s now an official candidate. He’s even filed the official paperwork with the Federal Election Commission, although he still must file a financial disclosure form. He can apply for extensions on that filing, too. (Wonder if those forms will show he’s worth $9 billion, as he claimed?)

No matter. He’s getting what he wants more than anything in the world — attention and publicity. And if Trump knows how to do anything, he knows how to get attention.

According to an article in the National Journal, Trump is topped only by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when it comes to generating publicity in social media — on Facebook, anyway.

“Using data from Facebook, National Journal analyzed the 24-hour buzz surrounding each candidate’s campaign launch. Hillary Clinton took the lead with 10.1 million total interactions. … The No. 2 prize goes to Donald Trump, who saw 6.4 million total interactions.” The story (complete with graphics with numbers from all announced candidates up to this point) continues that although Trump received a surge in social media popularity right after his announcement, “Jeb Bush sees more daily likes and shares on average.”

Early polls don’t really mean anything, and the election is still 15 months away. After all, four years ago, the polling leads see-sawed between former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, now-former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, businessman Herman Cain, former House Speaker Newt Gringrich, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. Even now-former Rep. Michele Bachmann won the now-defunct Ames Straw Poll.

But there’s barely more than a month before the first GOP debate on Aug. 6, and current poll numbers show that Trump will be on the debate stage with nine of his cohorts. And that means other supposedly more serious candidates will be crowded off stage.

The Suffolk University poll was not a national poll, which usually just shows name recognition. It was a poll from New Hampshire, where voters take their first-primary-in-the-nation responsibility seriously.

Another poll showed an uptick for Trump. According to a story from USA Today, a Fox News national poll also puts him in second place with 11 percent, behind Bush’s 15 percent. “But the poll also notes that only 18% of respondents said Trump is a serious candidate; 77% said he is ‘a side show,’ ” the story says.

There was no breakdown in the Suffolk University poll as to what kinds of voters chose Trump as a first-choice candidate. But The Donald comes up trumps in one category. He consistently has the highest negative ratings of any candidate, in either party. The Suffolk poll said 49 percent of Republican voters viewed him in negative terms. Other polls put that negative number as high as 69 percent. A compilation of different polls on favorabilitiy from Huffington Post spells out probable doom for Trump’s candidacy in the long run, even though his negatives are lower among Republican voters than they are among voters in the general population.

So watch Trump keep spouting off an issues like immigration, where he thinks he’ll get Mexico to build a wall — and pay for it — when he’s not talking about immigrants being drug dealers and rapists; the Middle East, where he has a “secret plan” to win against the Islamic State, or ISIS; and trade, where he says he knows how to overpower China because, well, because he’s Donald Trump.

One interviewer asked him how far he would take his run. He answered that he’s making a serious run, but he would leave the race if he were losing.

The question is: How long will he stay in once people actually start voting?

One Comment on “Donald Trump’s bubble: How much expansion before it pops?

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