Donald Trump has had one of the quickest rises and falls in the history of Presidential politics. Last month we found him leading the Republican field with 26%. In the space of just four weeks he's dropped all the way down to 8%, putting him in a tie for fifth place with Ron Paul.
Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney are at the top of the GOP race with 19% and 18% respectively. Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin are further back at 13% and 12%, followed by Trump and Paul at 8%, Michele Bachmann at 7%, and Tim Pawlenty at 5%.
As Trump got more and more exposure over the last month Republicans didn't just decide they weren't interested in having him as their nominee- they also decided they flat don't like him. Only 34% of GOP voters now have a favorable opinion of Trump to 53% who view him in a negative light.
Trump really made hay out of the 'birther' issue and as the resonance of that has declined, so has his standing. In February we found that 51% of Republican primary voters thought Barack Obama was not born in the United States. Now with the release of his birth certificate only 34% of GOP partisans fall into that camp, and Trump's only in fifth place with that now smaller group of the electorate at 9%.
Beyond the Trump angle the other thing particularly notable in these numbers is that they confirm Romney and Huckabee starting to pull away from Gingrich and Palin. Most of our polling over the course of 2010 basically showed a four way tie at the top with that quartet of contenders but over the last few months a clearer divide has started to show up in both our state and national polling with Huckabee and Romney more consistently outpolling Gingrich and Palin.
We also looked at a fair number of alternate Republican universes in which various candidates don't actually end up making the race. With Trump out Romney leads Huckabee 21-20 with Gingrich at 15% and Palin at 14%. With Trump and Huckabee out Romney is tops at 24% to 20% for Gingrich, 17% for Palin, and 12% for Paul. With Trump and Palin out Huckabee has the advantage with 24% to Romney's 22%, and Gingrich's 20%. And with none of Trump, Huckabee, and Palin running Romney gets 28% to 26% for Gingrich, 12% for Paul, and 11% for Bachmann.
To put that in a simpler form if Huckabee runs it's between him and Romney right now, and if Huckabee doesn't run it's between Romney and Gingrich right now. And there's plenty of time for other folks to work their way into that mix.
Full results here