POLITICS

Donald Trump Isn't A Joke To Republican Voters Anymore

Donald Trump's blusterous presidential campaign has earned him untold hours of TV mockery and cost him quite a few business partners. It's also succeeded in turning around his image in the GOP.

When he entered the race, he stood out for, among other reasons, the sheer awfulness of his ratings among his own party.

But a new HuffPost/YouGov poll is just the latest of several to show that Republicans are changing their minds about the business mogul. In June, voters who identify as or lean toward the Republican Party -- for the sake of brevity, let's just call them Republican voters -- said by a 19-point margin that Trump wasn't a serious candidate. Today, they're about evenly split.

Fifty-nine percent of Republican voters say they like Trump's personality; an even broader 74 percent say they agree with his political positions.

Trump's inflammatory rhetoric on immigration prompted companies including NBCUniversal, Macy's and Univision to cut ties with him, and caused consternation among rival Republicans mindful of the party's need to repair its image among Latino voters.

"I think he is a wrecking ball for the future of the Republican Party with the Hispanic community and we need to push back," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a relative moderate on immigration, said Sunday.

Former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.), nobody's idea of a moderate, also urged Trump to tone things down a little, telling the Denver Post that while he agrees with the substance of Trump's comments, the businessman "needs to be a little bit more artful" in his remarks.

Rank-and-file Republicans, though, don't seem especially bothered. Forty-four percent of Republican voters say Trump is "totally right" to argue that Mexican immigrants are "in many cases, criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc.," as he did in a recent statement. Another 45 percent say that while he's going too far in his position on immigration, he has a point. Just 7 percent say that he's wrong.

In fact, the media backlash against Trump's stance on immigration, not to mention the general incredulity toward his presidential bid, seems to be lending his candidacy some credence among conservatives -- both because he's sucking up a tremendous amount of cable news coverage, and because it's putting Republicans in the familiar position of rallying around a maligned candidate.

Going to war against the media is a time-honored tactic for Republicans looking to court base voters: witness the last presidential election, when Newt Gingrich floated briefly to the top of the GOP primary field after repeatedly attacking debate moderators, whom he accused of trying to spark Republican infighting.

Few in the GOP trust the mass media in general, and the majority of GOP voters -- 60 percent -- say media coverage of Trump's presidential bid has been too negative.

"As I've started writing more about Trump in recent weeks, I've begun getting much more email from his fans," Vox's Andrew Prokop wrote last week. "The messages reflect a certain symbiotic relationship between Trump and the establishment he professes to loathe: As the media piles on and as corporations cut their ties, Trump's utter unwillingness to concede an inch endears him further to his supporters, sending his numbers higher."

Considering that members of Trump's party are still as likely as not to say he's unserious, there's probably a ceiling on how high those numbers can go. Forty-two percent of Republican voters say they'd be dissatisfied or angry to have him as their nominee, which is down slightly since June, but still makes him one of the most controversial candidates.

Horserace surveys showing Trump near the top likely speak more to the chaos of the Republican primary field than to his strength as a candidate. His best poll to date finds him taking 15 percent nationally. For comparison, in 2012, Herman Cain polled above 26 percent at the peak of his brief bounce, while Newt Gingrich reached nearly 32 percent.

Trump's image among the full American electorate, meanwhile, remains pretty bleak. Just 22 percent of American voters think of Trump as a serious candidate, unchanged from last month, and nearly 60 percent view him unfavorably.

Still, Trump's candidacy is clearly resonating with some Republicans -- and the airtime devoted to him, however unflattering, seems to be making it echo even louder.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted July 10-13 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 poll's 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.

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