Poll from John Bolton Super PAC Claims ‘Trump’s GOP Base is Weakening’

DURHAM, NC - FEBRUARY 17: Former National Security Advisor John Bolton discusses the "current threats to national security" during a forum moderated by Peter Feaver, the director of Duke's American Grand Strategy, at the Page Auditorium on the campus of Duke University on February 17, 2020 in Durham, North Carolina. …
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A poll released Tuesday by former Trump administration National Security Advisor John Bolton’s Super PAC claims that former President Donald Trump’s “GOP base is weakening,” but pollster John McLaughlin quickly countered with a poll showing 82 percent of Republicans would vote for the former president if he runs for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024.

“A new nationwide survey by John Bolton Super PAC of midterm election voters revealed that support for President Trump is weakening inside the GOP. Specifically, 56% of Republican primary voters would support a candidate other than Donald Trump. Further, midterm voters revealed that a Trump endorsement in a race had very little net positive effect, and overwhelmingly signaled that a candidate’s position on key issues mattered more than a candidate’s loyalty to Donald Trump,” the John Bolton Super PAC press release stated:

Key findings from the poll include:

  • As the number of Republicans who describe themselves as ‘very favorable’ to Donald Trump has declined by 19 points since last October, with voters citing Trump’s personality as the reason for the decline
  • 50% of Republican primary voters indicated Trump opposing a candidate makes no difference to them while 26% said they would be more likely to vote against a candidate Trump opposes. 24% said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate Trump opposes – a margin of just 2 points.
  • By a margin of 89% to 8% Republican primary voters said a candidate’s stand on issues matters more than a candidate’s loyalty to Donald Trump.
  • 64% of the Republican primary voters who said they liked Trump’s policies but not his personality would vote for a candidate other than Trump in the 2024 presidential primary. Even among voters who ‘Like Both Trump’s Policy and Personality,’ almost one-third do not vote for Trump.

“[T]he poll was aimed at better understanding attitudes about a variety of factors affecting the Republican Party and its future: views on issues and policies; opinions about former President Donald Trump; and voting preferences looking forward,” former National Security Advisor Bolton said in the statement that accompanied the release of the poll, adding:

One poll alone is obviously only a start, which is why we hope to continue and elaborate on this poll on a regular basis going forward, both at the national level and in selected states, and also expect to make these results public. We welcome competition. Those dissatisfied with the results we present here are free to conduct their own polls. The more data the better. As the words from the Bible carved on the walls in the CIA lobby say: ‘And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’

The weighted poll of 1,000 likely general election voters was conducted for John Bolton Super PAC by PEM Management Corporation, and included an “oversample” of Republican general election voters. The John Bolton Super PAC statement also detailed the survey of the 1,000 likely general election voters has a 3.1 percent margin of error, while the survey of 600 likely Republican general election voters (weighted down to 363 for the 1,000 respondent sample) has a 4.0 percent margin of error.

The statement indicated neither the period of time during which the poll was conducted, nor the communication method by which the survey results were obtained, though the poll’s crosstab results, dated April 7, 2021, indicate 35 percent of weighted responses were from cell phones and 65 percent were from landline phones.

Former President Trump’s PAC, Save America, immediately pushed back, releasing a statement later Tuesday from 2020 Trump campaign pollster John McLaughlin.

“President Trump is the strongest endorsement I have ever witnessed in politics. Polling continually shows that when President Trump endorses, it almost always clears the field and puts his America First candidate on the path to victory. That’s why everybody is coming to Mar-a-Lago for his support,” McLaughlin said in the statement:

Nationally, polling continually shows that 69% of all Republican primary voters want President Trump to run again in 2024—including 76% of Trump voters and 70% of Republicans. If President Trump runs again, Republican primary voters will support him 82% to 15%—including 89% among Trump voters and 83% among Republicans.

“John Bolton’s failed warmonger views are completely out of touch with today’s Republican Party and the majority of Americans. President Trump’s successful America First policies kept us safe. This is a big reason why Republicans want him to run again,” McLaughlin concluded.

McLaughlin’s firm, McLaughlin & Associates, conducted a poll of 448 likely Republican primary voters in March, and a second poll of 441 likely Republican primary voters earlier this month.

When asked “If Donald Trump ran for President again in 2024, would you support or oppose him for the Republican nomination?” in the April 2021 McLaughlin & Associates poll of Republican primary voters, 82 percent of respondents said they would support former President Trump, while only 15 percent said they would oppose him.

These results showed a slight increase in support for former President Trump from the March poll, which found that 81 percent of likely Republican primary voter poll respondents said they would support former President Trump for the Republican nomination in 2024, if he chose to run, as opposed to 15 percent who said they would oppose him.

The October poll cited in the John Bolton Super PAC statement was not conducted on behalf of John Bolton Super PAC, but was instead conducted by the New York Times/Siena College Research Institute (NY Times/SCRI).

That October 2020 poll conducted by the NY Times/SCRI showed Joe Biden with a 50 percent to 41 percent lead over Donald Trump less than one month before the November 3, 2020 presidential election. (The actual final popular vote count in the 2020 presidential election was 51.3 percent for Joe Biden and 46.9 percent for Donald Trump, a 4.4 percent margin for Biden.)

The John Bolton Super PAC claimed in the topline summary of its poll released Tuesday that “with all voters Trump’s Very Favorable and Somewhat Favorable changed” when comparing the former president’s “Very Favorable” in the October 2020 NY Times/SCRI poll (33 percent) to his “Very Favorable” in the April 2021 John Bolton Super PAC poll (27 percent), a six percent decline. Meanwhile, Trump’s “Somewhat Favorable” rating with all voters increased from 10 percent in the October 2020 NY Times/SCRI poll to 16 percent in the April 2021 John Bolton Super PAC poll.

John Bolton Super PAC’s topline summary released Tuesday went on to state:

The drop was even larger with Republican voters . . . Among Republicans, Donald Trump’s Very Favorable dropped by 19 points [from 77 percent in the October 2020 NY Times/SCRI poll to 58 percent in the April 21 John Bolton Super PAC poll]. Then his Somewhat Favorable increased by 12 points [from 15 percent in the October 2020 NY Times/SCRI poll to 27 percent in the April 2021 John Bolton Super PAC poll] and his Unfavorables increased by 7 points [from 6 percent in the October 2020 NY Times/SCRI poll to 13 percent in the April 2021 John Bolton Super PAC poll].

The Trump favorability question in the October 2020 NY Times/SCRI poll was phrased slightly differently than it was phrased in the April 2021 John Bolton Super PAC poll.

“I’m going to read a few names of people or organizations in public life and I’d like you to tell me whether you have a very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable, or very unfavorable impression of each?,” the October 2020 NY Times/SCRI poll of 987 likely U.S. voters conducted between October 15 and October 18 with a margin of error of 3.4 percent asked. (Emphasis added).

When asked that question about Donald Trump, the 30 percent of the 987 poll respondents who identified as Republicans (a sample size of 296, which would have a margin of error significantly higher than the overall poll margin of error of 3.4 percent) responded as follows:

Very Favorable – 77 percent

Somewhat Favorable – 15 percent

Somewhat Unfavorable – 2 percent

Very Unfavorable – 4 percent

Don’t Know – 1 percent

Here’s how the April 2021 John Bolton Super PAC poll framed the Trump favorability question.

“Now, I am going to read you a list of names. Will you please tell me if you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of each person. If you have no opinion or have never heard of the person, just say no,” the April 2021 John Bolton Super PAC poll asked respondents. (Emphasis added).

When asked that question about Donald Trump, (see page 81 in the poll’s cross tabs) the 600 poll respondents who identified as Republican (weighted to just 363 of the 1,000 overall poll respondents), responded as follows:

Very Favorable – 57.8 percent

Somewhat Favorable – 27.2 percent

Somewhat Unfavorable – 5.4 percent

Very Unfavorable – 7.7 percent

Don’t Know – 1.9 percent

Notably, using the same basis of comparison for President Joe Biden as the John Bolton Super PAC uses for Donald Trump, Joe Biden’s favorability rating has declined from 53 percent in the October 2020 NY Times/SCRI poll to 49.5 percent in the April 2021 John Bolton Super PAC poll (see page 71 in the poll’s cross tabs).

The John Bolton Super PAC poll also asked a number of additional questions about former President Trump and the 2020 presidential election.

64 percent of Republican respondents agreed with the statement that “Donald Trump actually won the 2020 election.”

34 percent of Republican respondent agreed with the statement “Donald Trump is a bully.”

30 percent of Republican respondents agreed with the statement “Donald Trump lies.”

18 percent of Republican respondents agreed with the statement “Donald Trump shares responsibility for the riot at the Capitol on January 6th.”

After asking all these questions about Donald Trump — and no similar questions about Joe Biden, the John Bolton Super PAC poll asked the following question:

Now after hearing these facts, if the next election for president was held today, and the candidates were Donald Trump, the Republican, and Joe Biden, the Democrat, for whom would you vote?

Among all respondents, 46.9 percent said they would vote for Joe Biden and 43.2 percent said they would vote for Donald Trump, a 3.7 percent margin for Joe Biden, which is 0.7 percent less than his actual 4.4 percent margin in 2020.

Among Republican respondents, 85.7 percent said they would vote for Donald Trump, and 7.6 percent said they would vote for Joe Biden.

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