In today’s national Quinnipiac Poll, we find the Teflon Don, Donald Trump, untarnished from weeks of tireless assaults from the Democrat and Republican Establishments, the Media, and the Blogosphere. The Donald has not merely survived these attacks, he’s actually risen in the polls. I tend to use Quinnipiac because, of all the national polls, I believe their questions and results to be the most accurate, and over the last month, Trump has risen from 24% to 27%. Remarkable.
While this poll is a validation of the reality of Trumps’ staunch swath of unshakable supporters, it also demonstrates that Ben Carson is in quite a bit of trouble. Last week I wrote about how Senator Ted Cruz was capitalizing on Ben Carson’s inexperience – again, this is not merely true in Iowa and Massachusetts, but across the fruited plains. Ted Cruz has jumped from 13% to 16% nationally, while Carson has gone from 23% to 16%.
After breaking down the Iowa poll last last week, I argued that, “while Trump will hover in the upper 20% range, as other candidates drop out, Senators Cruz and Rubio will continue to rise”. This prediction appears to apply, not only to Iowa, but to national polls as well. Like Senator Cruz, Senator Rubio is seeing his numbers rise nationwide, jumping from 14% in October to 17% in November, elevating Rubio to second place.
Yesterday, Tom White wrote a full-throated endorsement of Donald Trump, wherein he began, “It seems that in my circle of Conservative friends, you are either a Donald Trump supporter or a Ted Cruz supporter”. Either Tom got to see the Quinnipiac poll before the rest of us, or his read of his friends was frighteningly accurate. Ted Cruz and Donald Trump each share 27% support from those identifying as “TEA Party”. Each share 24% support amongst Evangelicals. Amongst the “Very Conservative”, Cruz leads Trump by a marginal 4% (29-25). Indeed, amongst our circle of Conservatives and Constitutionalists, it does appear that we’re all utterly split, with neither candidate seeing much of an advantage.
Rubio’s surge comes with some impressive numbers as well. Senator Rubio now leads both Donald Trump and Senator Cruz (19%) on the question of who is best on Foreign Policy with 22% answering that Rubio is best prepared to lead in that area. While Cruz leads in this category in Iowa, Rubio leads nationwide, which could help Rubio in New Hampshire and South Carolina. Republican voters place a great deal of weight on Foreign Policy when it comes time to vote.
Senator Rubio also leads Ted Cruz 5% to 6% on the question of who would you absolutely not support. Of the first tier candidates, only Cruz and Rubio are free of factional disgust. This is incredibly important for each of these candidates moving forward, since 95% of Republicans nationwide would consider voting for them. Donald Trump has the worst numbers, with over a quarter of Republicans saying that they absolutely do not support Trump (26%). Jeb Bush is equally burdened with 21% of Republicans saying that they would not support him.
Going forward, it’s important to keep an eye on the net favorability numbers. Senator Rubio leads the Republican field with a net favorability of 58%, Cruz with 56%, Carson with 54%, and Trump with 37%. Rubio and Cruz seem poised to rise in the polls throughout the month of December, setting us up for a three-way race between Trump, Rubio, and Cruz. This will work heavily in the favor of Rubio, since, as Tom White pointed out, Cruz and Trump are splitting the conservative base.