A little more than a month away from the first votes of the GOP primary race, former President Donald Trump’s first-place position has just gotten stronger.
Results of a major poll released Monday show Trump has expanded his lead over his Republican rivals in the first-in-the-nation contest, while concerns among his supporters about his legal problems appear to be diminishing.
And while Trump’s competitors might not like that, there’s one historical comparison on the table that Democrats should like even less.
According to the NBC News/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll, the 45th president holds the support of an outright majority of Iowa Republicans, with 51 percent of those responding, while Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is in a firm second at 19 percent and former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley is at 16 percent.
Deeper down in the also-ran ranks are the incessantly irritating entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy at 5 percent and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at 4 percent.
On Monday, Steve Kornacki, national political correspondent for NBC News, broke down the numbers for the “Morning Joe” program and compared Trump’s lead to a previous Republican primary front-runner.
“The last time we were this close to the caucuses, again, just about a month away, that a Republican candidate had a lead anywhere near this size, you gotta go all the way back to George W. Bush,” Kornacki told host Mika Brzezinski.
“The year was 2000. Bush won the caucuses. Bush won the nomination.”
Koracki didn’t say it, but Bush also won that election.
What might be most remarkable about Trump’s lead is that it’s holding after a full year of vicious legal attacks by Democrats on multiple fronts.
Trump is under indictment in New York by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, in Fulton County, Georgia, by District Attorney Fani Willis, and in federal court in Florida and Washington, D.C., by attack-dog special counsel Jack Smith.
Yet according to the poll, Kornacki pointed out, fewer Republicans are worried now that Trump’s legal challenges will prevent him from winning the presidency than last month.
“We talked so much in 2023 about Donald Trump’s trials. We will continue to talk about it in 2024,” Kornacki said.
“But we asked folks: ‘Can Donald Trump win the election regardless of his legal challenges?’ Now, nearly three out of four Republicans in Iowa say ‘yes.’ Last month, that number wasn’t even two out of three. Big jump there for Trump.”
It’s entirely possible that Democrats have provoked these partisan legal fights knowing full well they would only solidify Trump’s position among a defiant Republican base while betting the attacks would broaden opposition to him among the overall electorate.
In that regard, the game could be to set up Trump as a man who cannot be beaten in a GOP nomination contest but cannot win a general election.
In a perfect world of 3-D political chess, that might make sense, but in the real world—especially a real world where Joe Biden is the president—it might also be too smart by half.
The simple fact is Democrats—at this point in time at least—are saddled with an incumbent president who’s established a record of failure on virtually every front.
Economically, inflation has burned through American wages since Biden took office. His border policies are such a disaster that Democratic cities far from the front are staggering under the burden.
And while the Biden White House has so far been supportive of Israel in its war on the Hamas terrorist organization—on Friday vetoing a cowardly United Nations Security Council cease-fire resolution—the issue has exposed generational and ideological fault lines in the Democratic left that not even the most lefty-sympathetic outlets can ignore.
Is it a wonder that all of that is showing up in Trump's head-to-head polls?
The latest numbers out of Iowa are putting Trump in a stronger position than before.
But the failures of Team Biden might be doing even more.