Why Republican voters are warming to Donald Trump for 2012

'The Donald' has a 52 percent favorable rating among Republicans, a new poll shows. Because Donald Trump acts like the boss, voters may be inclined to think of him that way.

Lucas Jackson/Reuters
Donald Trump speaks to the press during an announcement that Trump is investing in the development of luxury properties in the country of Georgia at a press conference in New York on March 10. Republican voters are favoring Donald Trump for 2012, a new poll shows.

Developer/reality show star Donald Trump appears to be pretty popular with Republican voters right now, in case you haven’t heard. He tied for second with Mike Huckabee, behind Mitt Romney, in a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC poll that measured the presidential nomination preferences of GOP voters. And he’s got a 52 percent favorable rating among Republicans in a just-released Gallup survey.

Why is he doing so well among adherents of the GOP? Perhaps because he’s running as if he were already the party’s boss, as opposed to the other candidates, who may seem like applicants for the job, comparatively speaking.

Mr. Trump’s CEO-like forcefulness has been on full display in his recent spate of television interviews. What do we do in Iraq? Stay and keep the oil! How do we handle China’s rise? Slap a 25 percent tariff on Chinese goods! Was President Obama born in America? There’s no proof – and I’m sending investigators to Hawaii to check into the story!

IN PICTURES: Will these Republicans run in 2012?

“It’s all about leadership. You have to be able to make deals,” Trump said Thursday on CNN.

Trump doesn’t back down when challenged. In the face of tough questions from interviewers, he’s doubled down on the whole where-was-Obama-born question, for instance. He waves away evidence such as Obama’s certificate of live birth from a hospital in Hawaii and contemporaneous birth announcements placed in Hawaiian newspapers.

“He could’ve been born in Kenya and gone over to the United States,” Trump said on CNN.

He’s even summoned an Arizona state lawmaker who’s the author of a so-called “birther” bill to meet him at Trump HQ in New York. Republican state Rep. Carl Seel’s legislation would require presidential candidates to prove that they were born in the United States to be eligible for the state’s electoral votes.

All evidence is that a big segment of GOP voters like this.

“The fact is that Donald Trump is doing a better job when he’s in front of the camera articulating a message against Barack Obama’s second term in office. He doesn’t pull punches, and he just speaks very plainly,” said a recent post on the conservative Red State blog.

Of course, some of that plain speaking is against GOP orthodoxy. Trump has criticized the House Republican long-term budget issued this week by Rep. Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin, for instance.

“I think what Paul has done is very dangerous for the Republican Party,” Trump said Thursday.

The electorate as a whole has much more mixed feelings about Trump than does the subset of Republicans. The just-released Gallup survey notes that if Democrats and independents are taken into account Trump’s favorability rating drops to 43 percent, with 47 percent holding an unfavorable view of the “Celebrity Apprentice” star.

Given that polls show no dominant front-runner in the GOP nomination race, Trump could still do well, notes Gallup. (Trump himself says he’ll decide whether to run in June.)

“Trump does enjoy what many candidates strive hard to develop – 90 percent name recognition among all Americans ... [but] whether Trump could parlay that familiarity into voter support in primaries and caucuses is an open question,” writes Gallup analyst Frank Newport.

IN PICTURES: Will these Republicans run in 2012?

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