A new poll just shattered one of Donald Trump's dearest self-delusions

Conservatives love Trump, but Latinos are a hugely different story. Welcome to Reince Priebus's worst nightmare

Published July 15, 2015 4:07PM (EDT)

Donald Trump                  (AP/Jae C. Hong)
Donald Trump (AP/Jae C. Hong)

Isn't politics just great now? Another day, another round of what we'll call "questionable assertions" from Donald J. Trump.

Our man appeared on "Morning Joe" today to discuss his very bigly classy poll numbers, and how he will defeat everyone and become president for life, etc. He of course insisted that the State Department diplomats negotiating the Iran nuclear deal did a poor job because unlike "most people," they have not read "The Art of the Deal." He claims to have "five different sources," whom he cannot reveal, feeding him information about how the government of Mexico is "sending" its rapists to the United States. People are always telling Donald Trump things, explosive things. Like that time he had "people on the ground" in Hawaii digging up dirt on Obama's fraudulent birth certificate. You just wouldn't believe the things they were telling him! And rightly so, since those people didn't exist.

So then we come to this line: "I would beat Hillary and I'll tell you what, a vote that I will win is the Hispanic vote."

His prospects against Hillary Clinton right now look very poor. The very same USA Today/Suffolk poll that shows him in first place nationally, with a smooth 17% to Jeb Bush's 14%, shows him trailing Clinton 51% to 34%.

Which brings us to that other part: "a vote that I will win is the Hispanic vote." He added that "the Hispanics love me." (Again, reminiscent of his 2011 presidential dabbling, when he was spreading racist lies about the first black president but nevertheless maintained that he had "a great relationship with the blacks.") Let's look at how great this relationship with "the Hispanics" is, per the fresh new ABC News/Washington Post poll: "Trump's unfavorable ratings among Hispanics rose sharply from 60 percent in May to 81 percent now. His favorable ratings are 13 percent among Hispanics, little changed from the previous survey."

What we have here is stark numerical evidence that "the Hispanics" do not love Donald Trump. By contrast, one might interpret this 68-point negative favorability gap as an expression of The Hispanics' abject hatred of Donald Trump, and that this might be related to Trump's recent comments regarding the nature of immigrants from Mexico.

The problem for the Republican field at large, here, is that Trump's comments are working swimmingly for him among Republican voters. It's not just that he's in first or second place both nationally and in critical early states with support in the mid-teens. It's that his ceiling for potential support is rising. When Trump was announcing, we wrote about how he might appeal to a small segment of the party but that his favorability ratings were so poor that he wouldn't have much room to grow. This has since changed dramatically.

Nearly six in 10 -- 57 percent -- Republicans now have a favorable view of Trump, compared to 40 percent who have an unfavorable one. That marks a complete reversal from a late-May Post-ABC poll, in which 65 percent of Republicans saw Trump unfavorably.

Trump continues to be unpopular among the public at large, with negative marks outpacing positive ones 61-33. "Strongly unfavorable" views outnumber strongly positive ratings by a three-to-one ratio.

Basically his rampage against the scourge of political correctness has sharply boosted his support among conservatives and made him -- or continued to make him -- toxic to most everyone else. He is showing, much to Reince Priebus's despair, that the quickest way to spike your poll numbers and favorability ratings among likely Republican primary voters is to be an unapologetically screeching racist. With so many candidates trying to devise a strategy that gives them a foothold for entry into the debates, Trump has offered the clearest blueprint yet.

I'd thought that one candidate who could use a boost -- perhaps Chris Christie or Marco Rubio -- might use the first debate as an opportunity to get in Trump's face about what a joke he was, knowing that Trump was so unpopular among Republicans that it wouldn't backfire. But Trump is rising in both actual and potential support by positioning himself as some sort of martyr for the anti-PC, anti-liberal media cause. Now the calculation is much different: go hard after Trump for what he's doing to the Republican Party, and the Republican voters might throw it back in your face.

As I was saying: Isn't politics just great now?

By Jim Newell

Jim Newell covers politics and media for Salon.

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