Donald Trump Runs Second in Poll: Can He Win Republican Nomination?

Donald Trump gets 17 percent of the Republican primary vote in recent poll.

ByABC News
April 7, 2011, 11:06 AM

April 7, 2011 -- A new poll puts real estate mogul Donald Trump in second place in the GOP presidential field, just behind former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and tied with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Among Republican primary voters, Romney leads with 21 percent, followed by Trump and Huckabee, who each garnered 17 percent. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich stood at 11 percent and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin got 10 percent.

So, could Trump really be the GOP nominee?

Let's take a look at what the numbers really mean – and don't mean.

The results say as much about the rest of the field as they do about Trump. About half of the field is basically unknown to all but the most highly engaged Republican voters. It's no surprise that the two men tied for second place both have their own TV shows.

Second, there's real ambivalence among Republicans about the current crop of GOP candidates. And the late start (or more accurately, the lack of a start) for the GOP primary means that these candidates haven't had a chance to define themselves and engage the electorate.

Finally, the race for the nomination is not a national contest. It's fought state by state. How Trump plays in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina will be more important than how he polls among the broader Republican electorate.

Can Trump really do the kind of retail politicking needed to win over voters in these states? And, what happens when Trump has to actually answer questions about his business dealings, personal life and views on issues?

Campaigning on TV is the easy part. Eating a pork chop on a stick while sweating in the August heat at the Iowa State Fair or slogging through snow drifts to kiss babies and shake hands in New Hampshire is a whole different ball game.

Trump has been jumping on the "birther" bandwagon recently, repeatedly raising questions about whether President Obama was actually born in the United States and calling on the president to release his official birth certificate.