Yes, Donald Trump Is Still Ahead in the Polls, But It's Not Time to Panic Yet

Voters won't really start paying attention until January.


The latest national poll from CNN and ORC is out, and "Donald Trump is once again alone at the top of the Republican field," writes Jennifer Agiesta. The betting market signal aggregator ElectionBettingOdds.com puts his chances of winning the GOP nomination at about 21 percent.

But all the election observers who get a cold shiver of terror at the thought of a President Trump should take heart. As I've been saying for months and months, the real estate magnate and reality TV star isn't going to win the Republican nomination.

What about the polling? As Bloomberg View's Jonathan Bernstein likes to say, ignore the polling. It tells us virtually nothing this far out.

In the last two election cycles, the folks at FiveThirtyEight have noted, Google searches for the Republican primary as a topic didn't spike until January. See for yourself here:

Google Trends

A study by RealClearPolitics' David Byler further discovered that the polls in the last two cycles didn't even really begin to get predictive until about two weeks after Thanksgiving. That would be six days from now.

And the Iowa caucuses this time around are scheduled for even later in the year—early February instead of early January as they were in '08 and '12. This means we're still nearly two months away from the very first votes being cast.

On top of all that, the pre-election surveys have been off for virtually every major race in the last three years, a phenomenon I detail (and attempt to explain) in the next issue of Reason, which will be out in just a couple of weeks. 

So yes, Donald Trump is ahead in the national polls. But there is little reason to assume from that fact that he has much of any chance of actually nabbing the nomination. As good as his numbers have been these past five months, the election betting odds site I mentioned earlier doesn't even see him as the most likely eventual victor. That honor goes to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio at nearly 38 percent.