Donald Trump has two words to describe a recent spate of articles that suggested he may be losing steam in the Republican presidential primary: “dishonest reporting.”
“Very dishonest and the people understand that,” Trump said in a conversation with Business Insider on Thursday.
Three articles published Thursday by CNN, Politico, and The Washington Post used recent polls from Quinnipiac and CNN/ORC to argue the surge that propelled Trump to the head of the GOP pack may be ending.
The Quinnipiac poll, which was released on Thursday, showed Trump in first place. However, it also found that Republican voters said, by a four-to-one margin, that former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina “out-performed” Trump in the Republican presidential debate last Wednesday.
On Thursday morning, Politico’s Kyle Cheney published a piece that pointed to the CNN/ORC poll, predictions from rival campaigns, and the widespread impression Trump “faded a bit” during the debate. Cheney argued the “Trump momentum shows signs of stalling.”
CNN’s Eric Bradner came in with a story of his own a few hours later. Bradner said the Quinnipiac poll “reinforce[d] a recent CNN/ORC poll that showed an ascendant Fiorina in the wake of her strong debate performance last week.” That story was headlined, in part, “Donald Trump lead shrinks.”
The Washington Post’s Philip Bump was up next. He published an article that used the CNN/ORC poll and wider averages to make the claim “Donald Trump’s slide in the polls is beginning to look real.”
Business Insider reached out to Trump and his team to ask what they thought about the notion he’s slipping. Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, said the media is motivated to diminish Trump’s standing.
“Look, I think the media in general wants to have a narrative that this race is either tighter than it really is,” Lewandowski said. “Or they want to propel other candidates into the forefront because they know that Mr. Trump can’t be bought and is only accountable to the American voter.”
Lewandowski argued Trump remains the front-runner by a wide margin in a large Republican field.
“If you were any other candidate in this race, you would welcome the opportunity to have Mr. Trump’s poll numbers,” he said.
Trump and his team pointed to a slew of polls to dispute the notion he’s losing steam. Specifically, they noted a Zogby poll released Sunday that showed his lead growing, Reuters’ five day poll tracker, and a Morning Consult poll that came out on Tuesday. Trump also pointed to the poll average on The Huffington Post, which has publicly feuded with his campaign.
“It’s dishonest reporting and — let me change it — it’s knowingly dishonest,” Trump said. “Because the polls speak for themselves. I’m up. Check out Zogby. Check out Reuters — the Reuters — what do they call that? The Reuters average. Even The Huffington Post. Check all of them.”
All of the polls show Trump well ahead of hte pack. Though Reuters and Zogby showed Trump’s lead growing, Huffington Post and Morning Consult found he has dipped slightly.
In addition to these national numbers, Trump and his team also pointed to polls showing him ahead in key primary states. Specifically, they identified an Iowa poll by PPP and a Sunshine State poll by Florida Atlantic University. However, Trump took issue with how the local Sun Sentinel newspaper covered the Florida poll with a headline that focused on the state’s former governor, Jeb Bush, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida).
“I just won Florida. I’m way up over everybody in Florida. You have a governor, you have a senator. I’m at 32, they’re at 19 and 11. OK? Rubio’s at 19, Bush is at 11, and I’m at 32,” Trump said. “But the headline is, ‘Rubio goes ahead of Bush.’ And I won the poll! I didn’t even know I was in the poll. I won the poll and the headline doesn’t even have my name in it!”
On the campaign trail and debate stage, many of the shots Trump has taken at his opponents emphasise his status as the front-runner. Business Insider asked Trump whether the fact he has made so many of the arguments for his candidacy about his poll numbers put him in a position where it would be disastrous for him to slip. Trump said it would be impossible to answer this question because he has, thus far, maintained a lead.
“I can’t tell you,” said Trump. “My numbers have just gone up. I just can’t tell you.”
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