Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Suffolk University Poll Shows Turmoil, Possible Defections, Among GOP Voters

Here's the new poll out from Suffolk, "National Poll with USA TODAY":

While 60 percent of Republican primary and caucus voters will support the eventual Republican nominee if their candidate is not chosen, according to a Suffolk University/USA Today national poll of likely election voters, a majority of Donald Trump supporters said they would vote for the businessman if he were to lose the nomination and run as a third-party candidate.

Forty percent of Republicans whose favored candidate is not nominated said they will vote for the Democratic nominee, seriously consider a third-party candidate, stay home on Election Day in November, or are undecided.

Democratic Party loyalty was higher among those polled, with 69 percent of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders voters saying that they will support the Democratic nominee regardless of whether their preferred candidate is chosen.

“As the Republican leadership scrambles to organize a unity effort at the July GOP National Convention in Cleveland and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich team up to stop front-runner Trump, we are seeing bipartisan dissatisfaction with convention rules and fairness,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. “Both the RNC and DNC chairs have their hands full this election season.”

I personally don't believe that Republican voters "whose favored candidate is not nominated" will vote for Hillary Clinton in the fall. I suspect this is pure bombast, spewed to pollsters at this stage in the primary campaigns in an effort to influence public opinion. Americans are extremely polarized, with hatred of the opposite party one of the defining features of the era (it's called negative partisanship).

That said, my hunch could be wrong if it's true that Donald Trump really is that caustic to those who've said they can't support him. But if that's the case, we should expect those voters to stay home on election day rather than cross party lines and vote for Hillary.

But it's all speculation at this point. We'll know more, and more precisely, after the party conventions wrap up in July and new polling comes out to show how well the party nominees are able to unify their disparate factions. It's going to be interesting.

(If Trump runs as a third-party candidate all bets are off. I suspect his backers would indeed bolt the GOP, throwing everything into utter uncertainty. I simply have no idea what will happen then, other than to think that the modern Republican Party's washed up as a viable presidential election vehicle.)