"For months, as Donald Trump lurched from controversy to controversy, commentators marveled that his voters remained loyal: Trump is impervious to political attack, some said.
Not so. Trump wasn't immune; analysts were just failing to look at the whole board."
I don't usually write, "I told you so" posts, but when I read that, I couldn't help but think about this post I put up in November:
That post said that when the media focus his poll numbers and on the percent of votes Trump was getting in the multi-candidate Republican primaries, they were missing the bigger picture - that most Republicans were voting against Trump. The post stepped back even further and said if you counted all voters - Republicans, Democrats, and all the various independent voters - he was only pulling about 7% of all voters. He was the biggest fish in the relatively small Republican party pond. But in the bigger pond, he was pretty small.
At that point I was only saying how many people were voting for others, I didn't have a basis to say that the rest had a strong unfavorable impression of him. But the LA Times article says that evidence is now available.
"While Trump’s polarizing campaign did not dent his standing with core supporters in the Republican primaries, it took a punishing toll on how the rest of the electorate views him. Trump’s image, which was poor even before he ran for president, has plunged to an unequaled low. Among scores of major political figures measured in polls over the last 30 years, Trump’s numbers are the worst.The article goes on to explain why people think Trump has no chance to win the presidency if he gets the Republican nomination. While I think that's the case - and said so in the November post - I'd haggle a little with this point made in the LA Times article:
If Trump were to win the GOP presidential nomination with his current public image, he would be the most unpopular nominee in the history of U.S. opinion surveys, veteran Democratic pollster Peter Hart said in an email."
"Many examples certainly exist of public figures who have succeeded in improving damaged reputations. . .I would argue that
Usually, however, political candidates' images get worse, not better, during a campaign. Democratic strategists are counting on that."
- historically, candidates haven't gotten the primary exposure of the 2012 and 2016 Republican primaries (all the multi-candidate Republican debates and all the social media exposure), so I'd expect the candidates today are better known and much of the damage is already done
- candidates who have gotten past nominations had much better approval ratings going into the election, so it would be more likely for their ratings to dip
- if Trump does get the nomination, I expect he'd change his presentation to reflect his new audience, though it's hard to be sure what is bluster for the far right (that could be changed) and what is true Trump (that would be harder to change)