Jeb's humiliating weakness: Americans like him even less than Donald Trump

Erstwhile GOP frontrunner watches his favorability rating slide to Trumpian levels

By Sophia Tesfaye

Published August 18, 2015 4:25PM (EDT)

  (Reuters/Dominick Reuter/Brian Snyder/Photo montage by Salon)
(Reuters/Dominick Reuter/Brian Snyder/Photo montage by Salon)

Donald Trump continues to dominate the Republican field and his rise comes not only at the cost of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in Iowa (who's seen his early lead in the neighboring state evaporate) but also at the expense of former Florida governor Jeb Bush's favorability nationally.

While Trump's rise in the poll this summer has been breathlessly covered by political and media reporters alike, much of the coverage has been tempered with warnings of caution from poll watchers who point to Trump's high unfavorability ratings and the high number of Republican voters who say they would not support Trump to argue that his standing as the GOP frontrunner may be short-lived. However, new polling suggests that Trump has not only managed to survive his summer of controversy but he's also somehow managed to increase his favorability rating, besting original GOP frontrunner Jeb Bush.

A new CNN poll released today shows that Trump's favorability stands at 36 percent among all Americans while Bush's stands at a marginally lower 34 percent. Bush, who gave a rather weak-kneed performance at the first Republican primary debate, saw his unfavorability rating among all Americans jump 13 percent from late July to 56 percent from 43 percent.

On Monday, the latest Morning Consult poll of Republican and Republican-leaning independent voters in Iowa showed that Bush and Trump were virtually tied in their favorable ratings, with 41 percent of registered voters viewing Trump favorably, compared with 40 percent viewing Bush favorably. The same poll showed Trump winning with 32 percent, far ahead of Bush, who came in second with 12 percent of the vote.

And while "Bush’s donors aren’t sounding the alarm — yet," according to a new report in The Hill, "several Bush donors agreed that Bush had underperformed in the debate":

Polling strongly suggests that Bush’s standing has eroded since the Aug. 6 debate.

In the last three major polls of Republican voters in Iowa taken before the debate, for instance, Bush twice placed third and was once tied for fourth. In the three major polls taken since then in the Hawkeye State, however, he has placed seventh in one, tied for seventh in another and fourth in a third.

Nationally, the last three major polls before the debate had all shown him placing second, behind Trump. In the two polls released since that clash, he was fourth and tied for second.

Most backers of Bush continue to believe it will all turn out alright. They believe that as the field is winnowed over time, the former Florida governor is far better-positioned to hoover up the voters of those who drop out than is Trump.

Perhaps it's Trump's transformational summer run as the "Teflon Don" that has Bush's super-sized super PAC, Right To Rise, set to launch a $10 million post-Labor Day television advertising blitz in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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2016 Campaign 2016 Elections Cnn Poll Donald Trump Favorability Gop Jeb Bush Polls