When you see charts comparing individual candidates, Trump's lead seems huge. Look at this one, which I based on Quinnipiac's latest poll:
The thing is, Trump's not just an individual candidate: as I'm sure he'd agree, he's a whole candidate category unto himself. But in such a big field, candidate-level analysis understates the power of more traditional categories, which will consolidate rapidly as the field shakes out.
How does Trump stack up against other categories of candidate?
Here he is versus religious conservatives:
Frankly, I'd have expected religious conservatives to fare better. (According to the Quinnipiac data, Huckabee, Carson and Santorum are the ones that benefit most from evangelical voters, though other candidates certainly have been credible in making religious faith part of their appeal.)
But look how well Tea Party regulars, taken together, stand up against The Donald:
See, now that's a surprise, especially since Trump is already pulling 23% of self-identified Tea Party supporters to his side, 3% more than he gets from respondents overall. He seems to have hit a ceiling recruiting serious Tea Partiers.
The whopping surprise is how well the much-maligned establishment candidates fare:
For those who'd expect Rubio to fall under the Tea Party banner: as it stands, he claims only 4% of Tea Party support, less than the 6% he pulls in overall.
In any event: it's good to have a whole category to yourself! Nobody can invade the Trump category, right? But what if the category isn't actually "Trump," but rather...
That puts things into perspective, right?
Just by way of overview, here's how Republicans are leaning, broken down by category, as of the 7/30 Quinnipiac survey:
Now, strictly speaking, I'm straying beyond the bounds of the Quinnipiac data here. But just suppose a few other category favorites threw their hats in the ring, and Trump had to compete with them for his share of that 20% slice of voters looking for a candidate in the space.
Could we get something like this:
But why discriminate? Why not open the category up to the history of broadcast characters?
That might leave us with a distribution of primary votes that looks something like this:
The margin of error on fantasy polling is pretty high. But it looks to me like we're one snap judgment by Clint Eastwood away from the establishment coming back to the fore, and Trump finding his way back to the back nine.
I'd sit through another wacky chair lecture for that, no problem. Do you feel lucky, punk?