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Eye On Candidates
February 18, 2016

Trump’s Ceiling

One question that has been hanging over businessman Donald Trump and his bid for the GOP nomination has been whether there is a ceiling to his support – meaning a point at which he simply cannot get above a certain percentage of the vote because the remaining voters are so staunchly against him. In a “chat” over at, the data-driven site of statistics guru Nate Silver, they looked at the evidence that there might be a ceiling for Trump and what it might mean for the GOP nomination fight.

Does Donald Trump Have A Ceiling?

natesilver: There’s a fair bit of evidence that Trump is likely to encounter some upward resistance. Which is not quite the same thing as a hard ceiling. In both Iowa and New Hampshire, his favorability ratings were only around 50 percent. In fact, in New Hampshire, about half of Republican caucus-goers said they’d be unhappy with him as their nominee….

harry: The idea here is fairly simple isn’t it. Look at the Monmouth University poll that came out as we were sitting here. Trump’s favorable rating is again just 50 percent. His net favorability rating is only +9 percentage points in South Carolina. [Marco] Rubio’s is +26. The key for Rubio is to get this to a one-on-one race. Anything else and Trump is going to coast….

natesilver: We know he has a high floor. He’s proven it with votes. But he may also have a low-ish ceiling. In that sense, Trump’s “momentum” may matter less than it would for another candidate. It’s certainly not true that 100 percent of Jeb Bush’s votes, for instance, would go to Rubio. Trump would get some. But there’s been a lot of evidence from the start that Trump does underwhelmingly as a second choice.

But this is also why it was a good sign for Trump that he got 35 percent of the vote in New Hampshire instead of the 24 percent he got in Iowa. If you’re at 35 percent — well, you don’t need that much more to go from a plurality to an outright majority. At 24 percent, it’s much tougher….

micah: …[A]re we just left waiting for a two-man race? Is Trump just going to keep winning until then?

harry: Not necessarily. There are still some states he could lose, but if you believe Trump is getting between 30 percent and 40 percent. It’s difficult to beat him if you have two or more opponents.

Silver writes that Trump has a 45 to 50 percent chance of capturing the GOP nomination, which certainly indicates there is a path for him, one that the analysts at suggest can only be stopped by getting Rubio into a one-on-one contest against Trump.

The whole article is well worth the time to read, as it also touches on the chances that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush remain competitive in the race (“maybe” and “no” seem to be the respective conclusions).