Is Donald Trump popular?

One fun part of living overseas is getting to talk to people from other countries about U.S. politics. So, there I am in a bar talking to a Belgian and German, and I get asked, “Donald Trump is very popular, isn’t he?” Frankly, that’s a pretty embarrassing question to have to get asked about your country, but there’s no sense in ignoring it, either.

Yes, he’s popular in some ways. He was a successful reality TV host. Oh, and I almost forgot, he’s the front runner in the Republican nomination contest. The Super Tuesday results seem to provide more evidence there. But the field is heavily divided. Check out these stats:

Trump has only won about a third of popular vote. It is possible that, in a two-person race, he might have been the second choice of many of these voters, but he’s clearly not most Republicans’ first choice. Also, he’s deeply unpopular among the larger U.S. electorate, with Huffington Post Pollster showing that 58% of people don’t like him. And averages of polls on hypothetical match-ups with Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders at RealClearPolitics show him losing (though not always with as comfortable of a margin as you would hope).

So, Trump’s success so far is a blot on America’s reputation, but he is most certainly not popular.

That said, there is the very real possibility that he will get the Republican party nomination. And that is a dangerous state of affairs. At a certain point, the tribal loyalties of political party membership could conquer reason. Republicans might end up voting for him simply because of that “R” next to his name. And anything can happen during an election. There’s no telling what madmen with means will do – be it dark or stupid. Despite Trump’s lack of popularity, Inauguration Day could be an ugly affair, indeed.

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