Apparently so - and in a big scary way according to Brian Beutler at The New Republic.
The moment he officially entered the Republican presidential race, and through the first debate, Donald Trump began to influence (or cheapen, if you prefer) the antics and rhetoric of other candidates.
This wasn’t new or unexpected in presidential politics, let alone Republican presidential politics. But the specter of someone like Trump driving the dynamic—as opposed to a more polished or pragmatic candidate—terrified Republican elites for obvious reasons. Many of them were hoping that 2016 would be the year that Republicans managed to avoid the worst-foot-forward problems that hobbled their nominees in 2008 and 2012, yet here was the GOP frontrunner calling Mexican immigrants rapists, another contender comparing nuclear diplomacy with Nazism, and still another one cooking bacon on the tip of a semi-automatic rifle.
The problem persists to this day, thanks to Trump’s persistent polling advantage and command of the media. But it just got meaningfully worse and now threatens to deteriorate into an outright catastrophe. For the first time since he joined the race several weeks ago, Trump has laid out a comprehensive policy approach—perhaps the most nativist, antagonistic, right wing immigration plan any leading Republican has ever proposed—and it’s earning rave reviews and approving nods from conservatives and other candidates.
Trump isn’t just shaping Republican rhetoric and antics anymore. He’s starting to shape Republican policy as well.
But there is a bigger problem with the Republicans' quest for the Presidency.
... After they lost in 2012, Republicans set about to neutralize immigration as a campaign issue, by moving quickly to the left and helping Democrats update immigration policy for a generation. Instead they have moved significantly to the right.
That reflects a broader, more troubling trend. Three years ago, the GOP recognized the need to move in a subtly but meaningfully different direction. What they’re finding instead is that their coalition lacks the cultural and ideological space to nurture that kind of moderating impulse. Now, as on immigration, Republicans have moved right on a host of other issues, from abortion rights to voting rights. ...
There is no consistent voice of moderation and reason on the Republican stage. Even without Trump, I suspect, the Republican candidates would be spouting the same kinds of ideas that have propelled Trump to be the GOP front-runner.