When Donald Trump took on Fox News host Megyn Kelly after the Republican debate many wondered whether, after surviving a controversy from attacking John McCain, the pugnacious businessman had finally picked a fight with the wrong person -- or the wrong television network.
"Republican leaders who have watched Donald Trump’s summer surge with alarm now believe that his presidential candidacy has been contained and may begin to collapse because of his repeated attacks on a Fox News Channel star," The Washington Post reported. In a story headlined "Donald Trump Won’t Win A War Against Fox News," FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver noted that Fox, unlike other outlets, is trusted by the vast majority of Republicans.
But while Trump's rise in the polls seems to have at least temporarily stalled, a new HuffPost/YouGov survey shows GOP debate-watchers mostly sided with Trump over Kelly. Fifty percent of Republicans or Republican leaners who watched at least part of the debate said they agreed with his criticism of Kelly's moderation, while just 30 percent agreed with Kelly. The rest didn't support either or said they were unsure. (Reactions were more divided among the roughly half of Republicans who either didn't tune in or saw only clips of the debate, perhaps partially because the tenor of coverage given to Trump's comments was mostly negative, or because non-Trump fans were less likely to watch in the first place.)
That backing for Trump aligns with Fox News' decision to continue to book him and the network's muted defense of Kelly, who has reportedly received death threats from Trump's supporters. While both Trump and Kelly have refused to apologize, the parties involved seem to have reached a fragile detente. The conflict, however, has created some cognitive dissonance for Republicans not used to seeing a GOP candidate pitted against a Fox journalist.
Post-debate, Republicans view Kelly more favorably than unfavorably by a 20-point margin, while Trump, who is both better known and more divisive, stands at +22.
And even those Republicans who said they liked both Trump and Kelly were more likely to say Trump was in the right.
None of this, of course, means that most Republicans want to see Trump as president -- most don't. Nor is it proof that the GOP's newly favorable view of Trump will last. Attitudes towards Trump and Kelly may have shifted as a result of the first debate and could continue to change as the campaign moves forward. But for the moment, at least, Trump's ratings remain net positive among Republicans despite his skirmish with their favorite network and one of its star hosts.
The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted August 11-12 among U.S. adults, using a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.
The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov's nationally representative opinion polling. Data from all HuffPost/YouGov polls can be found here. More details on the polls' methodology are available here.
Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some, but not all, potential survey errors. YouGov's reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample, rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.