Why would The Donald “tone down” his immigration rhetoric when it’s working so well?

Yesterday, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus reportedly called Donald “Rapists and Murderers” Trump to ask him to “tone down” his inflammatory immigration rhetoric.

Donald Trump, via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Donald Trump, via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

And Trump, presumably, told Priebus that he was a loser and that Trump’s tone was the greatest the world has ever seen. After all, he’s pretty certain that he’s going to win the latino vote.

The problem is that if you replace “latino” with “Republican,” that statement isn’t quite as absurd.

A poll released by YouGov this morning shows that, in the wake of his incendiary remarks, Donald Trump has surged to become the favored candidate among registered Republican voters. Not only does he hold an outright lead, with 15% of the electorate to Jeb Bush’s 11%, but he is also the most commonly selected second choice, with 12% to Scott Walker’s and Chris Christie’s 8%:

Check out the full poll here.

Check out the full poll here.

What’s more, while Donald Trump began his campaign with underwater favorability ratings with Republican voters, his favorability has increased, not decreased, as he has continued to spout racist, nativist and generally insane things about large groups of the American people:

yougov trump

This being the case, Priebus’s plea to Trump can be rephrased as “please stop playing our party’s racism to your advantage.” As this video from the Democratic National Committee highlighted, Trump’s views aren’t extreme by any stretch of the Republican imagination; they’re simply a distillation of things that Republicans have been saying for quite some time:

So while Very Serious Pundits like Mark Halperin are saying with a straight face that GOP candidates have everything to gain by standing up to Trump and calling his racism out for what it is, Republicans responsible for winning votes in Republican primaries know otherwise. Attacking Trump alienates voters necessary for any successful Republican primary campaign. The other candidates aren’t struggling to stand up to Trump; they’re struggling with the fact that, by being fully untethered to morals or reality, The Donald has his finger more squarely on the pulse of the Republican electorate than they do — and he has the poll numbers to prove it.

What’s more, “standing up to Trump” by criticizing his tone belies the fact that, as far as actual policies go, none of the Republican candidates diverge all that much from where he stands. And criticizing someone for calling Mexicans rapists and murderers while supporting policies that treat Mexicans like rapists and murderers isn’t going to fool anyone.

Perhaps with the exception of Mark Halperin.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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