Obama Suggests Trump's Dominance Is Doomed

Republican presidential candidate Trump arrives at an event at the Living History Farms Visitor Center in Urbandale, Iowa, on Jan. 15. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

President Barack Obama poured cold water on Donald Trump’s dominance of the Republican presidential primary, saying Friday he bets voters soon will look to other candidates.  

Obama suggested Trump’s big lead nationally could be doomed, saying it is merely the latest example of a long-running trend of bombastic candidates getting a lot of attention early in the process. But when it comes time to actually vote, Americans tend to get "serious" and vote for other candidates, Obama said during a YouTube-hosted online interview.  

A NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released this week showed Trump with a 13-point lead over Sen. Ted Cruz (33 percent to 20 percent) nationally. That’s up from his five-point lead (27 percent to 22 percent) last month.  

And in its average of prominent polls, RealClearPolitics gives the billionaire business mogul an even bigger lead over the Texas senator, 34.5 percent to 19.3 percent. The organization also has Trump lead by less than a percentage point in Iowa and by 17.6 points (30.4 percent to 12.8 percent) over Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.  

Despite Obama’s skepticism of Trump’s chances of being the eventual Republican nominee, Sam Wang of the Princeton Election Consortium has compiled polling data that shows, should historical trends hold, he should grab the nomination.  

Wang looked at late-December and early-January polls from the last four presidential elections for both parties. He found that all but one eventual GOP and Democratic nominee (John Kerry in 2004) stood at No. 1 or No. 2 nationally around this time. In the two early states of Iowa and New Hampshire, every eventual nominee — again, except Kerry, who was third in Iowa — was in first or second in those two states.  

At the time Wang ran his numbers, Trump was first nationally, second in Iowa and first — by a lot — in New Hampshire. And since he published his data, Trump has closed the margin in the Hawkeye State, where he’s within or on the brink of the margin of error in most prominent polls.  

“The only candidate with all No. 1 and No. 2 rankings is Donald Trump. Therefore, if 2016 were to follow the pattern of past elections, he would be the most likely nominee,” Wang wrote in a blog post . After Trump comes Cruz, followed by Rubio as a long shot. Nobody else fits the pattern.  

“Am I saying that Donald Trump is inevitable?” Wang adds. “Not quite.”  

Contact Bennett at johnbennett@cqrollcall.com and follow him on Twitter at @BennettJohnT.

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