In our last post, we stated the theory that Donald Trump has corraled the "Wallace vote"--the lower income, less educated white voters who are overtly bigoted and willing to vote that way in general elections.
We now have some additional evidence in support of that theory--a recent poll from Monmouth of Iowa voters. In the new Monmouth poll (http://www.monmouth.edu/assets/0/32212254770/32212254991/32212254992/32212254994/32212254995/30064771087/de240398-df23-47b6-8470-91977d38b749.pdf ), there is a tremendous amount of movement from the last poll, about a month ago. In particular, Carson has almost collapsed, with the majority of his support moving to Ted Cruz. Likewise, Rubio has picked up some of the Carson support, as well as improving his position among more moderate GOP voters at the expense of Bush, Kasich, Fiorina and Christie.
But Trump has gone nowhere--his support declined by a statistically insignificant 2%. Furthermore, the poll shows that Trump's strongest support (relative to others) is among Republicans who have never previously participated in a caucus in Iowa, but say they will this year. That cohort is notoriously fickle when it comes to actually turning out, as opposed to drinking a beer and cursing as they watch Fox News.
This poll reinforces our belief that Trump has wrapped up support of overtly bigoted voters, but in the process turned off everyone else, leaving him with no room for further growth. Voters in Iowa are changing their minds, but not for Trump.
The result is that, with less than two months to go to the actual voting/caucusing, a new dynamic is emerging, in which Trump faces the danger of finishing second, and maybe even third, in Iowa. Finishing third would be particularly damaging--it would destroy his claim as the GOP front-runner. Further, it would hasten the consolidation of Republican voters in future contests, such that he could also come in third in New Hampshire.
Trump will likely do better in the so-called "SEC" primary of mostly southeastern states. Those states have higher percentages of Wallace type voters, especially in the Republican party. Thus, he could garner as much as 40% in some of those states, especially in the Deep South, but his support even in that cohort may erode if Cruz and Rubio emerge as the two front-runners by then.
Trump is a stubborn fellow, who hates to lose. We would not rule out having him take his campaign the independent route in the general election, despite his "pledge" not to.