Real-estate mogul and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is surging in the polls.
On Wednesday, a new CNN poll found that 12% of national Republican primary voters would most likely support Trump, putting him in second place behind former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. It’s double the support that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker both garnered.
But don’t expect a Trump logo on the White House anytime soon. Trump’s relatively strong numbers are misleading, pollsters say, and likely very temporary.
Princeton University polling expert Sam Wang said that Trump’s high name recognition, as well as a crowded GOP field — 14 candidates deep at this point, with two more set to join this month — is giving Trump the appearance of strength.
“I would not construe Trump’s support as indicating that he is serious,” Wang told Business Insider.
“This year, with close to 20 candidates expected to enter the race, the threshold for looking like a top-tier contender is quite low — even 10% of GOP primary voters is enough,” Wang said. “We don’t know whether his ceiling is greater than 50% of GOP voters (where Rubio is probably at) or more like 25% of GOP voters.”
University of Michigan polling expert and political science professor Michael Traugott agreed, adding that Trump is coasting off of his name recognition. He said Trump will likely sink as primary voters become more familiar with other candidates.
“The poll results with regard to candidate standing are ephemeral at this stage, primarily a function of name recognition,” Traugott said. “Trump has greater name recognition than many of the others, especially the governors. But name recognition is not the same as support.”
On Thursday, The Huffington Post’s polling team suggested that Trump’s numbers may be the result of a natural post-announcement bump in the polls, as well as wall-to-wall media coverage. Trump’s social-media effect and Google dominance is only topped by Hillary Clinton.
The Huffington Post’s polling team said the flood of negative stories about the reality-television host’s comments on immigration will only reinforce his unfavorable ratings, which remain extremely high. High unfavorable numbers are a bad sign for any candidate — particularly early in the race, because they are difficult to change and suggest that voters already have an opinion of a candidate.
“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. “If anything, the opposite is likely occurring, as mostly negative stories reinforce impressions of Trumps already sky high negative ratings, including a majority of Republicans.”
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