Several new polls came out yesterday: two national and three state polls. On the whole, the national polls tell us very little we didn’t already know. The state polls are a lot more interesting.
Trump 39, Cruz 18, Rubio 11, Carson 9, Bush 3, Christie 3, Fiorina 3, Huckabee 1, Kasich 2, Paul 3, Graham 0, Santorum 1, Pataki 0
(yeah, I know, but it is a national poll)
Trump 34, Cruz 18, Rubio 13, Carson 6, Bush 7, Christie 5, Fiorina 4, Huckabee 4, Kasich 2, Paul 2, Graham 1, Santorum 1, Pataki 0
Both of these polls add nothing to what the previous polls have told us. They are both fairly close to the ABC News/Washington Post poll that came out Thursday. The field is Trump. Then in the second tier, Cruz and Rubio. Ben Carson has suffered a complete collapse and is sliding into non-entity territory. Jeb Bush has reached stasis at around 5-6 points but in polls where the margin of error is about 4 points, 3 and 7 are pretty much the same number. There may be a Chris Christie boomlet developing and I would expect that when the Bush train derails completely after New Hampshire that Christie will inherit those votes. As an aside, there have been hints that the Bush fundraisers may be coalescing in Christie rather than Rubio.
There are anomalies inside the FoxNews poll that make me queasy about taking the crosstabs all that seriously. For instance, it shows Trump taking 40% of the white Evangelical vote. That is counter-intuitive and, though it might be correct, it differs from previous polls. So for the sake of my sanity, I’m going to end the discussion with the top line numbers.
Boston Herald — New Hampshire
Trump 26, Rubio 12, Christie 11, Cruz 12, Bush 10, Kasich 8, Carson 5, Fiorina 6, Paul 3, Huckabee 0, Graham 0, Santorum 0, Pataki 0
Let’s compare this to a WBUR poll from December 11
Trump 27, Rubio 11, Christie 12, Cruz 10, Bush 8, Kasich 7, Carson 6, Fiorina 3, Paul 2, Huckabee 1, Graham 0, Santorum 0, Pataki 0
What we are seeing in New Hampshire is the vote solidifying into a Trump followed by a second tier of four candidates. The second place win there is very important. Rubio needs the #2 if he gets beaten badly in Iowa. Since 1972, only one candidate has ever lost Iowa and New Hampshire and gone on to win the nomination (Bill Clinton, 1992). But this is an outlier of an election year. No party has ever had this many serious candidates running but loss will cause Rubio problems and it could aid Christie.
Fox 5 Atlanta — Georgia
Trump 35, Cruz 16, Rubio 12, Carson 6, Bush 6, Fiorina 5, Kasich 2, Paul 2, Huckabee 1, Christie 6, Graham 1, Pataki 1, Santorum
The Georgia primary is on March 1 (along with Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oklahoma,Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, and Wyoming). On December 11, WSB released a poll with these results
Trump 43, Cruz 16, Rubio 11, Carson 7, Bush 5, Fiorina 2, Kasich 2, Paul 1, Huckabee 2, Christie, Graham, Pataki, Santorum
The same picture emerges. Trump is running away with the nomination. Cruz is in second. Rubio trails outside the margin of error. And then there is everyone else.
Florida Times-Union — Florida
Trump 30, Cruz 20, Rubio 15, Bush 13, Carson 8, Christie 6, Paul 3, Fiorina 3, Kasich 1, Huckabee 0, Graham 0, Santorum 0, Pataki 0
The Florida primary is on March 15 (along with Ohio, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, and the Northern Marianas). Earlier in the week St. Pete Polls released another Florida poll:
Trump 36, Cruz 22, Rubio 17, Bush 9, Carson 6, Christie 3, Paul 1, Fiorina 1, Kasich 2,
Hu ckabee, Graham, Santorum, Pataki
Two Florida polls in the same week and they give us the same picture. Trump with a strong lead, followed by Cruz, followed by Rubio is in third place, and outside the margin of error, in his home state.
What we are seeing is that the race is actually a four-man race between Trump and Cruz and Rubio and The Rest. What happens next depends upon several variables. First, are the pundits correct in predicting that Trump’s support will evaporate once voters get to the point of casting votes. Iowa, FWIW, hints that may be the case. Second, Rubio is sliding into a not-very-strong third place. A strong Christie showing in New Hampshire is more likely to cause problems for Rubio than for any other candidate. Third, the “second choice” vote is becoming critical as candidates drop out