One of the biggest indicators of Donald Trump’s supposed weakness as a presidential candidate is rapidly changing.
Two new polls released over the past handful of days have displayed a dramatic shift in the real-estate mogul’s popularity with Republican primary voters.
A new Washington Post/ABC poll released Wednesday found that 57% of Republican primary voters now have a favourable view of Trump. Compare that to the Post’s May poll, which showed that only 16% of Republican primary voters held a favourable view of him. The Post also noted that Trump’s unfavorability ratings have also dropped from 65% to 40%, giving him an overall net-positive favorability rating in this poll.
A poll from Monmouth University released Monday discovered a similar shift. According to the poll, Trump is now viewed favourably by 40% of the Republican electorate, compared with 41% who view him unfavorably. That’s a marked improvement from a 20-55 split in June.
And other local polls are showing similar results, too.
A Public Policy Polling survey released last week also showed Trump ahead of the GOP pack in North Carolina. In that poll, Trump led Bush 16% to 12%.
“Trump’s favorability rating in North Carolina is 55/32, much higher than we were finding in national polls prior to his entry into the race,” PPP director Tom Jensen told Business Insider. “Trump’s really caught fire with voters on the far right.”
Beyond the normal difficulty that comes with predicting the outcome of a primary months before the first state votes, pollsters and analysts have found it tricky to make claims about the current field because of the sheer number of candidates and the super PAC money that will allow many candidates to stay in the race even if they’re sagging in polls.
Trump’s surge has been dismissed by pollsters and analysts, who have noted that former US Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minnesota) and Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain also experienced similar upswings in support before flaming out in the 2012 race.
Multiple pollsters and analysts have also repeatedly said that the key number that shows Trump’s weakness lies in his favorability numbers, which until this point have been disproportionately low. They argued that since he was so well-known already, Trump did not have much room for improvement in his favorability ratings.
“While increased media attention may have given Trump’s numbers a modest boost, they obviously do not translate directly into electoral support — otherwise, Trump would be far ahead of the Republican field,” The Huffington Post’s polling team wrote earlier this month. “If anything, the opposite is likely occurring, as mostly negative stories reinforce impressions of Trump’s already-sky-high negative ratings, including a majority of Republicans.”
As with all early polls, numbers will change as primary voters become more familiar with the candidate. Analysts have noted that Trump has incredibly high name recognition, and he’s tapped into a key issue that is extremely important to Republican primary voters.
“The poll results with regard to candidate standing are ephemeral at this stage, primarily a function of name recognition,”University of Michigan polling expert and political science professor Michael Traugott told Business Insider. “Trump has greater name recognition than many of the others, especially the governors. But name recognition is not the same as support.”
So it may be too early to predict if Trump will actually take home delegates once primary voters start going to the polls. But if Trump’s favorability numbers keep climbing, there’s a chance that Trump could become a legitimate threat in the Republican field.
On the other hand, however, the public at large still views him largely unfavorably. Just 33% of voters view him in a favourable light, compared with 61% who have an unfavorable impression.
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