Monmouth University released its first Republican poll following the first presidential candidate debates and the new GOP poll is good news for Donald Trump and other outsiders, bad for news for the establishment candidates. The conventional wisdom immediately following the first Republican debates seemed to be that Donald Trump would sink as his bombastic style would sink most politicians, but Trump has bucked that trend and continues to rise among Republican voters. Neurosurgeon Ben Carson, another Washington political outsider, also has gained in the polls and is the only Republican candidate that beats Trump head-to-head (55% to 36%).
Donald Trump cracked 30% support nationally for the first time, while Carson has surged to 2nd place at 18%. Jeb Bush, the one-time frontrunner has plummeted to 8%, while Rand Paul, the favorite of many libertarian-minded cannabis law reform advocates has slid all the way down to 2%. Thankfully, Chris “Reefer Madness” Chris Christie (2%) and his prohibitionist comrade, Marco Rubio (5%), are still struggling to get out of double-digit support.
I watched some clips of the first GOP debate and posted on my Facebook page on August 7th: “Admittedly, I have only seen a few snippets of the Republican debate last night, but from what I have seen, I think that Donald Trump will either rise in the Republican polls or at least maintain his lead. As much as I find many of his comments repugnant, I think that (unfortunately) a large swath of GOP primary voters will like Trump even more.”
However, my political punditry isn’t infallible according to the latest Monmouth poll as I have been telling my friends and colleagues that I though that much of Trump’s success was because of the large field of candidates and that his ceiling of support would be too low if the race got narrowed down. We’ll see how the race plays out as the votes start coming in for real, but currently Trump is beating the GOP establishment candidates handily in head-to-head matchups: 56% to 37% against Jeb Bush; 63% to 30% against Christie; and so on.
Interestingly, Ben Carson bests Trump and Ted Cruz (who has spent his time in the Senate clashing with the GOP establishment) only loses to the Donald by 7%. Rand Paul, who made the mistake of attacking Trump for being “not Republican enough” in the first debate, doesn’t even crack 30% support heads up, losing by more than 30%. If I was advising Paul, I would certainly encourage him to actually back up Trump on some of his anti-establishment rhetoric and come out with a bold civil liberties platform that includes marijuana legalization and greater Drug War reforms so he can energize his libertarian base.
This Monmouth poll and the rise of Bernie Sanders against Hillary Clinton clearly demonstrate an anti-establishment mood among voters across the country. Personally, I believe that this anti-establishment sentiment is good for our country and for cannabis policy moving forward. Prohibitionist policies certainly aren’t helping Christie and Rubio while Trump doesn’t seem to be harmed by supporting medical marijuana 100% and basically adhering to a states’ rights position on recreational cannabis, putting him in a more progressive position than the Democratic frontrunner. Ted Cruz has “evolved” on marijuana policy to a states’ rights position and Carson is certainly a mixed bag on the issue, but both are better than Christie and Rubio. It will be interesting to see how everything shakes out when the caucuses and primaries arrive, but right now, establishment candidates have to be very concerned.
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