Seven out of ten “Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters” say businessman Donald Trump is the GOP’s “strongest general election candidate,” based upon a newly released Associated Press-GfK poll.
Trump’s edge is the largest for any candidate, while “6 in 10 say the same for retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who, like Trump, has tapped into the powerful wave of antiestablishment anger defining the early phases of the 2016 contest.”
“It’s the lifelong establishment politicians on both sides that rub me the wrong way,” said registered Republican Joe Selig, a 60-year-old carpenter from Vallejo, California. “I think Trump is more electable. He’s strong. We need strength these days.”
As the AP points out, the poll “highlights the sharp contrast between the party’s voters and its top professionals regarding the billionaire businessman’s ultimate political strength.” In effect, the GOP’s Washington-based political class is completely out of touch with GOP voters.
While former Florida Gov Jeb Bush ranks with Carson on electability, with 6 in 10 viewing him as able to win in 2016, Bush doesn’t do so well on other counts.
Carson and Trump are the candidates most likely to receive positive ratings from Republican voters, with 65 percent saying they have a favorable opinion of Carson and 58 percent saying the same of Trump. Republicans are somewhat less excited about Bush, with 48 percent giving him a favorable rating.
“If he weren’t a Bush, I wouldn’t even know his name,” said Republican Leslie Millican, a 34-year-old housewife from Magnolia, Arkansas. “I like the other Bushes. Something about (Jeb Bush) — he ain’t grown on me yet.”
More than anything, GOP voters appear to have had enough with the Republican permanent political class and are ready to embrace a genuine outsider.
By an overwhelming 77 percent to 22 percent margin, Republican registered voters and leaners say they prefer an outsider candidate who will change how things are done, rather than someone with experience in Washington who can get things done. They prefer someone with private sector leadership experience over experience holding elected office, 76 percent to 22 percent.
Trump, Carson and Fiorina are the only Republican candidates who have never held elective office.