Donald Trump remains the leader of the Republican candidates in polls, despite outrage caused by his controversial comment that Sen. John McCain (R) of Arizona was not a war hero.
But poll data may not be as definitive as it seems. Depending on when it was collected, the opinions reflected may have changed between then and the time the data was released.
The New York Times warned that most poll data released since Mr. Trump’s war hero comments – used wrongly by many as a metric of how the public reacted to the statement – was actually collected before the comments were made.
Only two national polls have been started and completed since Trump’s remarks, the Times noted, and data from these shows stagnant, not growing, support for Trump.
Still, stagnant support is not the plummet many expected. In a Monmouth University poll of New Hampshire, the first New Hampshire poll conducted entirely after the comments, Trump has the backing of almost a quarter of likely Republican primary voters – double that of runner-up candidate Jeb Bush.
“The controversy over comments about John McCain’s war service do not appear to have slowed the Trump steamroller,” Monmouth University Polling Institute director Patrick Murray said in a news release.
According to the data, Trump has a significant lead in several key groups: voters on every point on the conservative spectrum favor him, as do voters in both the over-50 and under-50 age groups and both Republican voters and independent voters likely to vote Republican.
The Times compared Trump’s considerable sustained support to that of 2012 Republican candidate Herman Cain, following allegations of sexual harassment against him. Polling data did not reflect a change in support for Mr. Cain immediately following the allegations, yet he dropped out of the race a month later.
“If sexual harassment allegations didn’t immediately bring Mr. Cain down, there’s not much reason to think Mr. Trump’s ratings should crash either,” the Times reported. “It will take time for the effects of the scrutiny brought by Mr. Trump’s comments to take their toll.”