Donald Trump, Birther In Chief? Poll Has Him Leading GOP Field With 26 Percent

Apr 15, 2011

We journalist types should be lavishing less attention on Donald Trump and greater attention on more substantial people who are likely to win the Republican nomination.

At least, so says Conor Friedersdorf at the Atlantic who, arguing that journalists should pay more attention to candidates of political substance, recently wrote:

Look at Donald Trump. Yes, he's a national joke, but he's been given a lot more attention as a contender for the presidency than a lot of folks who've served multiple terms in the Senate or a statehouse.

And the American people would never elect him!

Well, maybe they would, maybe they wouldn't. I remember once telling colleagues it was difficult to see how a black guy named Barack Obama could be elected a U.S. senator in Illinois. You live, you learn.

Anyway, there are apparently a lot of voters out there telling pollsters they could or would vote for Trump. So it would be journalistic malpractice if we didn't pay attention to him commensurate with his polling numbers.

A new opinion survey from Public Policy Polling found the New York developer and TV celebrity leading the field of potential Republican candidates with 26 percent of Republicans saying they would vote for him and 17 percent saying they would vote for Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor. (A poll I posted on earlier in the week had Trump tied with Huckabee.)

Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who many journalists have anointed as the frontrunner, was running third with 15 percent saying he would be their candidate at this point.

This poll gets even more interesting. It indicates there's a hardcore birther segment in the Republican Party that will reject any candidate who says unequivocally that Obama was born in the U.S.

And those birthers are rewarding Trump, who has become something of the birther in chief with very strong support.

An excerpt:

23% of these voters say they would not be willing to vote for a candidate who stated clearly that Obama was born in the U.S. 38% say they would, and a 39% plurality are not sure. Among the hardcore birthers, Trump leads with 37%, almost three times as much support as anyone else. He comes in only third at 17% with those who are fine with a candidate that thinks the President was born in the country. Romney, who recently stated he believes Obama is a citizen, leads with 23% with that group but gets only 10% with birthers.

Say what you will, Trump's presence has certainly spiced up the Republican race. Not he;s announced he's a candidate yet.

By the way, another piece in the Atlantic, this one by Joshua Green, looked at what Trump's investigators are likely to find (or already found) in Hawaii where he sent them to investigate Obama's birth. Green's bottom line? The Donald wasted his money. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit