The big story this week was how Donald Trump, aka The Donald, pulled ahead of the crowded Republican field by taking the lead in the latest poll. POLITICO’s headline read: Donald Trump leads GOP field in latest poll.
Among voters who identify either as Republicans or independents and who plan to vote in their states’ Republican primaries or caucuses, 17 percent named Trump as their first choice for the GOP nomination in the 2016 presidential race.
Trump was followed by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (14 percent), Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (8 percent), Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (6 percent), Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (5 percent), retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson (4 percent), Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (4 percent), former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (4 percent) and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (3 percent).
What ensued was a cacophony of media speculation as to whether or not Trump would deliver the nomination or destroy the Republican Party in the process. But what everyone failed to address was hiding in plain sight.
The poll only addressed “[voters] who plan to vote in their states’ Republican primaries or caucuses.” In essence, the poll sought to estimate the opinion of what amounts to 20 percent of the voting population. So 17 percent of that bloc of voters is less than 4 percent of the electorate.
Admittedly, the math isn’t scientific, but it cuts to the heart of how electoral politics, and national opinion polls for that matter, are decided — by a smaller and smaller subsection of the electorate.
Since a majority of states hold closed or semi-closed presidential primaries, only voters who are affiliated with the Republican Party are given a voice in determining the nominee who may ultimately represent every American.
Not to mention the fact that the Republican and Democratic presidential primaries are paid for with taxpayer dollars.
So the next time you see that a candidate like Donald Trump is leading a national poll, ask yourself who does that candidate actually represent?