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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

What America Thinks: Tracking Trump’s Run

Donald Trump is now the presumptive Republican nominee for president in 2016. If you had told voters that would be the case when he began his campaign last June, they’d probably have thought you were crazy. At that time, just 27% of Republicans thought it was likely Trump would be the eventual Republican presidential nominee.

But it soon became apparent to us that this time was different from Trump’s abortive presidential bid in 2000. In mid-August, Rasmussen Reports launched the weekly Trump Change survey to track the billionaire developer’s political fortunes, and it has proven to be an accurate barometer of what America’s been thinking about him ever since.

Already by August of last year, 57% of GOP voters said Trump was likely to be their nominee, moving him from near the bottom of the pack to number one among 17 prominent Republican hopefuls. Following the terrorist massacre in Paris in November and Trump’s tough talk on the campaign trail, belief among Republicans in the likelihood of his nomination jumped into the high 60s.

Trump’s numbers fell slightly in early February following his loss to rival Ted Cruz in the Iowa caucus. However, he won the New Hampshire Republican primary just a week later and South Carolina after that. By late February, 81% of Republicans said Trump was the likely nominee. After a string of primary wins in early and mid-March, that figured had climbed to the high 80s.

Then a string of gaffes, the loss of the Wisconsin primary which breathed new life into Cruz’s effort and millions of dollars' worth of anti-Trump ads blunted his momentum. While Trump still ran far ahead of his remaining rivals, belief in the likelihood of his nomination was back in the mid-70s. The April 19 New York primary changed that: The survey at the end of that week found that 83% of Republicans again thought a Trump victory was likely.

Following last week’s big Trump win in Indiana, Cruz and John Kasich ended their campaigns. Our final Trump Change survey released last Friday - begun just before they quit - found 93% of GOP voters in agreement that Trump is the likely nominee. It was a long way from 27% 11 months ago.

For Rasmussen Reports, I’m Alex Boyer. Remember, if it’s in the news, it’s in our polls.