3 April 2016

“Punish women for abortions” voted most controversial Trump statement (so far)


It’s been a tough few days for the Donald Trump campaign and there is mounting evidence from opinion polls that Hillary Clinton is building up a very large lead in early general election head-to-heads.  She has led 32 of 33 recent opinion surveys and by an average margin of over 10%. Some Republicans are beginning to think that Mr Trump might be a “zombie candidate” – politically dead because of mounting gaffes when it comes to November’s presidential election but already with too many delegates to stop him being the Republican nominee.

In her latest Wall Street Journal column, Peggy Noonan reviewed what she described as Mr Trump’s “large blob of sheer dumb grossness” over recent weeks:

“It was always a mistake to think one explosive statement would blow his candidacy up. What could damage him, and is damaging him, is the aggregate—a growing pile of statements and attitudes that becomes a mood, a warning sign, a barrier. It’s been going on for four or five weeks, and you can take your pick as to the tipping point. Maybe it was when he threatened to “spill the beans” on another candidate’s wife, or when he retweeted the jeering pictures of her and his own wife. Maybe it was his inability to clearly, promptly denounce the KKK; maybe it was when he hinted at riots if he’s cheated out of the nomination. Maybe it was Corey Lewandowski’s alleged battery of reporter Michelle Fields. Maybe it was when Mr. Trump referred in debate to his genitals, a true national first.”

Accepting Ms Noonan’s view that no single controversy has seemingly caused Mr Trump significant damage we nonetheless asked YouGov’s First Verdict panel to say which three of ten of his most notable interventions were most controversial. 12% of respondents checked the box for “none of these interventions are controversial” – suggesting that mealtime conversations in those panelists’ homes might be quite lively! The top three controversies according to the YouGov panel were Mr Trump’s remarks about punishing women who had illegal abortions (remarks he has since walked back from); his personation of a disabled New York Times reporter (watch here); and a temporary ban on Muslims entering America.

Here is the full ten controversies and the scores they received:

Given that the abortion controversy is still fresh in voters’ minds, having occurred only days ago, it might not have been identified as the most controversial Trumpism if the survey had been conducted in a week or so.

For more about Portrait of America and the methodology behind First Verdict, click here.

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Tim Montgomerie is Editor of Portrait of America