Impervious to gaffes, scandals, or any serious engagement with policy, Donald Trump has surged to a double-digit lead in New Hampshire, ahead of every other Republican presidential candidate.
Trump is the first choice of 24 percent of the likely Republican primary voters in NH, according to a poll from Monmouth University [PDF]. That number is twice that of the next closest candidate, Jeb Bush, and it’s the first time in any early 2016 polling that a candidate has stuck out so much from the busy Republican field.
Notably, the Monmouth poll was completed after Trump said Sen. John McCain, a former POW in Vietnam, was not a war hero, and that Trump “like[s] people who weren’t captured.’’ That comment – among many, many others – brought harsh criticism from his fellow candidates.
Yet those barbs don’t seem to have landed, according to the topline polling numbers.
Trump does perform rather weakly in his favorability ratings, with 47 percent holding a favorable opinion of him and 44 percent having an unfavorable one. You can see his potential future problem when you compare that to Gov. Scott Walker’s 57-16 favorable-unfavorable split and Sen. Marco Rubio’s 53-22 split.
Trump’s divisive nature allows him to surge to a lead in a crowded field where support is split among many competitors. However, his unlikeability would be damaging in a smaller field, one where his opponents could coalesce around one anti-Trump candidate.
For what it’s worth, Trump himself appears to be enjoying his boost, and has been retweeting other media outlets’ coverage of the Monmouth poll all day. (Hi Trump social media intern!)
Wondering what Trump might do if he wins? One idea he’s contemplating is appointing Sarah Palin to an administration position.
“I’d love that,’’ he said on The Palin Update, a Palin-focused radio show (yeah, that’s a thing). “Because she really is somebody who knows what’s happening and she’s a special person, she’s really a special person and I think people know that.’’
Gallery: The 2016 presidential candidates