By Susan Page
WASHINGTON -- Republicans may be ready for a fling with Donald Trump, but a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll shows they have reservations about installing him in the White House.
The real estate developer and reality TV star, who scores at the top in polls of the GOP field these days, falls to fourth when Republicans are asked to rate who among the contenders would be a "good" or "great" president in office.
Fifty percent of Americans, including 31% of Republicans, say Trump would make a "poor" or "terrible" president.
"Trump is filling a huge void in the Republican Party right now, and he's gathering a protest vote: protest against the way Washington works; protest with the establishment Republicans," says Scott Reed, manager for Bob Dole's 1996 presidential campaign. "The jury is still out whether Trump can translate that into a real candidacy for president."
His possible bid faces broad resistance: 63% of Americans, including 46% of Republicans, say they definitely will not vote for Trump for president. In comparison, 46% of Americans say they definitely will not vote for President Obama -- significantly lower but itself a hurdle to winning the 2012 election.
Though Trump initially got attention by expressing doubts whether Obama was born in the USA, that issue is not driving his support. Among those who say they definitely or might vote for Trump, only about a third question whether the president was born in the USA.
Support from the "birthers" is stronger for Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney. The issue has persisted even though Hawaii has released an official Certificate of Live Birth showing Obama was born there, a fact confirmed in non-partisan investigations by FactCheck.org and others.
Still, in the USA TODAY poll, only 38% of Americans say Obama definitely was born in the USA, and 18% say he probably was. Fifteen percent say he probably was born in another country, and 9% say he definitely was born elsewhere.
Republicans are inclined to say the president was born abroad by 43%-35%.
For what it's worth, not everyone is convinced Trump was born in the USA either: 43% say he definitely was born here, and 20% say he probably was; 7% say he definitely or probably was born in another country. Nearly three in 10 say they don't know enough to say.
The poll of 1,013 adults, taken Wednesday to Saturday, has a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points.