Harken back to a time many moons ago… August of 2007 to be exact. The songs playing on the radio were Fergie’s “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and Plain White Ts with “Hey There Delilah”. Movie-goers were flocking to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Transformers and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. That month was also one of severe weather with Tropical Storm Erin hitting Texas and Oklahoma, a derecho in Chicago and even a tornado in Brooklyn. And, if you believe the early Republican primary polling, the nation was on a path to have Rudy Giuliani as the GOP nominee.
Well, twelve years later and some things have changed. Still have severe weather, it is August after all, and even have a Fantastic Four in the theaters. But, what we didn’t have was a President Giuliani or even the Republican nominee, Rudy Giuliani. If you look back at the polls from August of 2007, the Rudy juggernaut seems invincible. He was leading in all the major national surveys all summer. Looking at a Diego/Hotline survey from late August, 2007 Rudy Giuliani was at 27% with the rest of the field as follows – Fred Dalton Thompson – 17%; Mitt Romney – 15%, John McCain – 12% and everyone else at 4% or lower. Quinnipiac has the same top four, albeit in a slightly different order – Giuliani – 28%; Romney – 15%, Thompson – 12%; and McCain – 11%. The candidate that was the nominee? The one in 4th place a year before the convention.
So it’s 2015 and there is a new juggernaut at the top of the polls. According the CNN/ORC survey that was released this week, Donald Trump is at 24%, followed by Jeb Bush at 13%,Ben Carson at 8%, Scott Walker and Marco Rubio each at 7%, Rand Paul at 6% and Carly Fiorina and John Kasich each at 5%; the other nine candidates are all below 4%.
So what comparisons can we draw? Well, just one – don’t read too much into horserace polls this far out from any one actually voting. They really do not do anything to help predict the actual nominee. Besides being from New York, one thing that the Donald and America’s Mayor have in common is familiarity. Both are well known to the public and that’s probably a lot of what is coming across in both years.
But, if you want to read something into the horserace surveys, this is what I would take away from them. Donald Trump is tapping into a sense of being fed up with the status quo. He’s expressing honest opinions, not focus grouped messaging and the people are responding to that “freshness”. This is a way to show the establishment that they are fed up and don’t want to take it any longer. How that translates into voting behavior – that’s months from now and a lot can happen in this race between now and then.