Donald Trump and the Birthers

According to the latest survey from Public Policy Polling, Donald Trump is doing incredibly well with the Republican primary electorate:

Trump's broken the perpetual gridlock we've found at the top of the Republican field, getting 26% to 17% for Mike Huckabee, 15% for Romney, 11% for Newt Gingrich, 8% for Sarah Palin, 5% for Ron Paul, and 4% for Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty.

This is in line with earlier polls which showed Trump at or near the top of the Republican presidential field. I've been hesitant to attribute Trump's rapid rise to his outspoken "birtherism"; after all, Trump is a very famous guy, and name recognition can go a long way in the early stages of a primary contest. That said, these results are enough to make me reconsider:

Only 38% of Republican primary voters say they're willing to support a candidate for President next year who firmly rejects the birther theory and those folks want Mitt Romney to be their nominee for President next year. With the other 62% of Republicans- 23% of whom say they are only willing to vote for a birther and 39% of whom are not sure- Donald Trump is cleaning up.

That is ridiculous, and electorally dangerous to boot; birtherism is far from a mainstream part of the political conversation, and ridiculous to most people. In a general election, open doubts about the president's birth are a surefire way to alienate the public. Of course, if that happens, Republicans will have no one to blame but themselves. To borrow a point from Adam:

As much as establishment Republicans want to believe that birtherism is a “trap” set for them by liberals, the truth is that it’s the easiest trap in the world to escape — it’s just that until now, Republican leaders have chosen to placate or avoid offending birthers by engaging in post-birtherism or pseudo-birtherism

Next year should be interesting to watch, at the very least.

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