Trump's lead in the Republican presidential race has continued to grow

It has surely been the summer of Trump.  But as the summer winds down, the New York businessman doesn’t appear to be going any way but up.  Trump has expanded his lead among registered voters who call themselves Republicans, and for many in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll he has become not just a credible candidate, but a possible general election winner. 

Last week, Trump led the other Republicans, as he has since early July.  Back then, just 15% of Republicans said he was their preferred choice.  This week, more than twice that number, 36%, say that.  Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, in second place, is far behind at 11%.  And this week the more politically experienced Republicans, like former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, are even further back. 

However, just 8% of Republicans say Trump is their second choice.

However, Republicans are warming to Trump.  Two out of three have a favorable view of him.  Carson and Rubio match Trump’s favorable levels, though nearly twice as many have unfavorable views of Trump as hold that view about the other two.      

Most Republicans, whichever candidate they support, say they will be enthusiastic if their choice were nominated. 

One advantage that Trump has now is a new belief in his electability.  In July, as Trump emerged as a leading candidate, fewer thought he would win the nomination than supported him.  Now, he is seen as the most likely nominee by 41% of Republicans, more than twice the percentage that see Jeb Bush as the GOP victor.

And when it comes to the general election, three in four Republicans think Trump can win that race, more than say that about any of the other Republican candidates.  Many non-Republicans think the same: just over half the public see Trump, as well as Bush, as Republicans who could possibly win the general election.   However, even more in the overall public see Democrats like Vice President Joe Biden and frontrunner Hillary Clinton as capable of winning the general election. 

One change that has taken place since Trump’s announcement early this summer is a more nuanced view of him among Republicans.  In June, the dominant word Republicans used to describe Trump was “rich.”  Now there is a lot more variety in their answers, and since most Republicans like Trump, many of the words they use about him are favorable, including references to his outspokenness. 

Trump is regarded as a strong leader by nearly all Republicans – and almost two-thirds of the public overall.  But on the other hand, just over a third overall view him as qualified for the job of President (though 61% of Republicans think he is qualified). 

There also is doubt about his ability to handle an international crisis: most Americans say they would be uneasy about his approach to that.  Republicans are more positive, but fewer than half of them say they would be confident in Trump’s ability in foreign crises. 

Trump has certainly made things interesting: 39% of the overall public, and a majority of Republicans, say they have become more interested in the campaign because of Trump’s presence in the contest.  And nearly three-quarters of Republicans think he has had a positive impact on the campaign. 

The public overall is closely divided on this. 

See the Economist/YouGov results

Economist/YouGov poll archives can be found here.

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