Trump’s Rise Highlights a Flawed Field

From Nate Silver:

When I think about Mr. Trump, whose share of the Republican primary vote is rising in some polls (in fact, he’s tied for first in one of them), I think about the Fairfax Five and the Factional Five. If Mr. Trump were going to run for president, it might have been more natural for him to do so as a social moderate but fiscal conservative, touting his executive experience and the virtues of free-market capitalism. Instead, he has run far to his right, giving voice to false and misleading claims about Mr. Obama’s birth certificate, and reversing his prior, more moderate positions on gay rights and abortion.

While Mr. Trump, a creature of New York rather than of Washington and one who carries his share of personal baggage, might never have been the first choice of establishment Republicans, he now threatens to become a problem for them. Mr. Trump wasn’t all that popular to begin with — Talking Points Memo’s poll tracker has him with ratings of 32 percent favorable against 44 percent unfavorable among the general public — and those numbers are more likely than not to worsen as he is viewed less as a celebrity and more as a politician with some outside-the-mainstream views.

The opportunity for Mr. Trump may have been created by the demise of the candidate who might be thought of as the founding member of the Factional Five: Sarah Palin, whose numbers have declined among Republican voters as she has received more criticism from the establishment. For the establishment Republicans, it must feel like a game of Whac-A-Mole. Just as Ms. Palin’s numbers decline, candidates like Mr. Trump and Ms. Bachmann — who could be nearly as problematic next November — pop up in her place.