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Trump pushes back on Bolton poll

Former President Trump is pushing back on a poll commissioned by his former national security adviser showing his grip on the GOP loosening in his post-presidential life.

In a statement issued through the former president's leadership PAC on Tuesday, Trump's pollster John McLaughlin insisted that Trump remains "the strongest endorsement I have ever witnessed in politics" and that most GOP voters are eager to see the former president mount another campaign for the White House in 2024.

"Polling continually shows that when President Trump endorses, it almost always clears the field and puts his America First candidate on the path to victory," McLaughlin said. "That's why everybody is coming to Mar-a-Lago for his support." 

McLaughlin cited a slew of numbers from his firm's monthly omnibus poll of 1,000 likely voters to back up his claim that the former president would have clear majority support of GOP primary voters in 2024 before turning his criticism directly to John Bolton, the former national security adviser who has emerged as a vocal Trump critic.

"John Bolton's failed warmonger views are completely out of touch with today's Republican Party and the majority of Americans," McLaughlin said. "President Trump's successful America First policies kept us safe. This is a big reason why Republicans want him to run again."

McLaughlin's statement came hours after Bolton's super PAC, the John Bolton PAC, released the findings of a poll showing Trump's standing among Republican voters weakening

That survey showed the number of GOP voters who view the former president "very favorably" sinking 19 percentage points since a separate poll from a different pollster was fielded in October. It also found that half of Republican primary voters are unswayed by Trump's opposition to certain candidates.

The poll was commissioned by Bolton's super PAC and conducted by veteran North Carolina GOP pollster Carter Wrenn. It's based on responses from 1,000 general election voters, including 600 Republican voters, and does not specify when the poll was fielded. The margin of error for the entire sample is 3.1 percentage points. For the Republicans surveyed, it's 4 points.

In releasing the results of the poll on Tuesday, Bolton said that he hoped to close the so-called rhetoric gap - the gulf between what pundits say to be true and what voters actually believe.

"We were motivated in part because of the palpable discrepancy in our public discourse between what commentators, politicians and others assert about the present and future status of the Republican Party, and the evidence they possess to support their contentions," Bolton said. 

"Clearly, we face a 'rhetoric gap,' a significant disjunction between opinions and facts," he added. "One of our principal objectives here is to contribute to closing that rhetoric gap."

But the poll's findings also call into question Trump's sway over the GOP and its voters in the months since he left the White House. The former president has sought to remain a kingmaker in GOP politics, doling out endorsements to loyalists and attacking Republicans he believes have crossed him. 

To be sure, many Republican incumbents and candidates are still clambering for Trump's support, believing it to be their ticket to front-runner status, especially in conservative districts and states where the former president remains popular. And prospective 2024 Republican presidential candidates are watching Trump closely to see if he decides to mount another bid for the White House. 

The poll released by Bolton's super PAC showed that Trump remains the candidate with the most substantial support among primary voters. But in a seven-person field, Trump drew only 50 percent support, with the remaining 50 percent either undecided or split between other candidates.

--Updated on April 21, 2021 at 11:35 a.m.

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