Outcries and Criticism Fail to Yank Trump From Catbird Seat, Polls Say

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 9.14.01 AMMAGGIE HABERMAN

Friday, December 11, 2015

 

Good Friday morning. As he has done multiple times in this campaign, Donald J. Trump has shown that the criticism and controversy that chase his often inflammatory statements, do not follow him into the polls. Several new surveys show that his calls to bar Muslims from the United States have not damaged his support.

Mr. Trump has been scorched by Democrats, mocked by donors, dismissed by some of his rivals and denounced by Republican officials in his home borough of Manhattan. Yet the latest New York Times/CBS poll is the newest data point showing how Mr. Trump is animating the Republican Party far more than the other candidates.

More than four in 10 of the Republican primary voters polled described strong leadership as being of premier importance — over other qualities seen as driving voter sentiment in past races. The bulk of voters listing leadership as a key quality support Mr. Trump.

He continues to fare well with voters who do not have a college education, but he is also doing well in the New York Times/CBS poll with evangelical voters, just ahead of Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who has picked up support in the group as Ben Carson fades.

Most important, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, while 57 percent of all voters disagree with Mr. Trump’s call to bar Muslims from entering the country, the proposal is more popular with Republicans. About 38 percent of Republican primary voters support it, while 39 percent are against.

And in New Hampshire, a new survey by WBUR found Mr. Trump stretching his lead. Also of note, in the New York Times/CBS poll, a smaller percentage of all voters favored gun control, down to 51 percent from 58 percent in October. There are few issues that Hillary Clinton has focused on as heavily in her stump speeches, and, in the wake of the San Bernardino attacks that killed 14 people, Democrats have spoken aggressively about gun control.

This may not be where the electorate is when voting starts in Iowa and New Hampshire at the beginning of February. But for the moment, Mr. Trump has benefited, almost entirely without his own polling for most of the year, from external events and from his gut instinct about a party that has changed drastically in the last five years.