Ryan Appears Headed for Big Win in Trump-Dominated Primary Battle

New poll shows House Speaker leading GOP challenger by 66 points

House Speaker Paul Ryan / AP
August 5, 2016

House Speaker Paul Ryan appears to be headed for an overwhelming victory in his primary contest next week, despite Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s recent praise for Ryan’s opponent.

Ryan leads Wisconsin businessman Paul Nehlen by 66 points, according to a poll released on Friday by the Remington Research Group. Ryan faces businessman Paul Nehlen, an outspoken Trump supporter, in Tuesday’s Republican primary.

Republicans in Wisconsin’s first congressional district have a generally positive view of Trump, with 52 percent expressing a favorable view and 32 percent an unfavorable one.

Trump recently praised Nehlen in a post on Twitter, but Remington’s survey suggests that district Republicans’ view of Trump is not translating into support for the challenger.

Just 16 percent of respondents said they will support Nehlen next week. Nehlen’s net favorable rating is underwater: only 16 percent said they have a favorable view of him, while 47 percent expressed an unfavorable view.

In contrast, voters’ views of Ryan are overwhelmingly positive. Eighty percent expressed a favorable view of the speaker, with just 14 percent holding an unfavorable opinion of him.

Remington’s findings are consistent with previous polls in the race. A Washington Free Beacon/Vox Populi survey in late May showed Ryan leading Nehlen by 73 points.

The primary race has become a proxy battle between Trump supporters and Republicans skeptical of the controversial GOP nominee. In addition to Trump himself, Nehlen has garnered support from former Alaska governor Sarah Palin as well as conservative pundits Michelle Malkin and Phyllis Schlafly.

Nehlen has expressed support for controversial policy proposals floated in some form by Trump. On Thursday, Nehlen said the country should explore a policy of deporting all Muslims in the United States.

Trump has declined to endorse either candidate in the race—though his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, "strongly endorse[d]" Ryan on Wednesday—drawing fire from GOP leaders who are livid that he is not backing the highest-ranking elected Republican in the country.

Trump tweeted praise of Nehlen this week and later demurred when asked whether he would support Ryan. Trump will hold a campaign rally in Green Bay, Wis., on Friday evening.

The primary battle drew the ire of Wisconsin state assembly speaker Robin Vos on Friday, who threw his support squarely behind Ryan.

"Welcome to Wisconsin, Mr. Trump, but let’s get something straight—we are Ryan Republicans here in Wisconsin, not Trump Republicans," Vos wrote in an "open letter to my fellow Republicans."

"As we watch the news today about the visit of the GOP Presidential nominee to Wisconsin, I have to ask myself, ‘am I proud of the GOP nominee lately?’" Vos wrote.

"The answer is so obvious it hurts. No. Actually, it’s even worse. I’m embarrassed that he’s leading our ticket."

Published under: Donald Trump , Paul Ryan