In a neat little story arc so compact and fast-paced it could have been edited by producers of a reality show, Donald Trump's time as Republican frontrunner for the 2012 election appears to have come to an end. The Donald flew too close to the sun and melted his waxy birther wings. His support among GOP primary voters has cratered. This is (the dying light of) Trumpdate.

  • Support Collapses  Trump's support has gone from 26 percent among GOP voters--putting him at the top of the field--to 8 percent, a tie for fifth place, in the span of a month. Public Policy Polling finds that Trump now has a 53 percent disapproval rating among Republicans. The birther issue that sent him soaring to such great heights is what was his downfall: In February, 51 percent of Republican primary voters thought President Obama was born abroad; now just 34 percent think so. And among those die-hard birthers, Trump gets only 9 percent of their vote, putting him in fifth place. With Trump out of the race, Mitt Romney regains his lead, with 21 percent of the vote, followed closely by Mike Huckabee, with 20 percent.
  • And Maybe He Won't Run as a Third Party Candidate  Trump flirted with running as an independent candidate if he didn't win the Republican nomination, but now he appears to be rethinking that--even though most Republicans now wish one would run. He told Fox News' Martha MacCallum "as to me running as an Independent--a lot of people want me to run as an Independent. The problem is, I'm very conservative. If I ran as an Independent, I would take tremendous votes away from the Republican candidate. That would assure Obama's election, and that would not be a good thing." It's the first sensible political statement Trump has made.
  • But Haters Hate Him for His Deals  Trump told MacCallum that he was shocked by how much the haters have been hating on him.

I've heard for years that if you're a very successful person who's done a lot, made lots of deals, good deals, fair deals, put a lot of people to work, you cannot run for high political office, in particular the presidency. ... I have been hammered. Every article is--if they say anything, it's only negative. And they really are very, very protective of the president. They go all out to protect the president. And to be honest with you, I've never seen anything quite like it. ... I can see now why Ross Perot dropped out. ... And I heard from people that were involved that he was just getting hammered because he did a lot. He did a lot of deals, a lot of everything. And he didn't like it.

  • Still Not a Racist  But Trump still has his defenders. Fox News' Bill O'Reilly defended the reality star against accusations of racism from the New York Daily News' Mort Zuckerman. The newspaper had posted online a photo of Trump overlayed with checked boxes next to the words "racist" and birther," The Huffington Post reports. O'Reilly said that was a "very nasty" editorial choice that was bad for the Daily News. "I don't think it's a skin color issue, Mort," O'Reilly said.