A new Quinnipiac national poll is out and may or may not be significant. It may not be significant because the picture it paints is substantially different than other national polls and, therefore, have a sample that is simply horked beyond to point of repair. Or, conversely, the sample is good it this reflects a sea change in the race. First, let’s to to the topline numbers: Trump 28; Cruz 24; Rubio 12; Carson 10; Bush 4; Christie 6; Paul 2; Fiorina 2; Kasich 1; Huckabee 1; Santorum 1; Graham 0; Pataki 0.
What remains the same is the rough pecking order of Trump, Cruz, and Rubio. What also remains the same is that Cruz has pulled ahead of Rubio outside the margin of error. Carson continues his slide into political oblivion and a lucrative career as a pundit, author, and motivational speaker.
A minor difference is that Chris Christie has moved into fifth place, though within MOE. Yesterday, Bush said he was happier at fifth place than as frontrunner, the whole “gentleman’s ‘C’ thing, I suppose. No word if he’s equally happy in sixth place. But like Carson this confirms that Bush’s campaign is now auditioning for a role on The Walking Dead.
The significant change is at the top. Trump leads Cruz by four points. That is the smallest lead for Trump since July 22, excluding the November Ben Carson boomlet that no one thought was for real. And the four point lead is slightly inside the MOE.
I head to head matchups, there is more interesting news. Clinton wins 47-40 when facing Trump. Clinton leads Rubio by a meaningless 44-43 and is tied with Ted Cruz at 44-44. Clinton’s lead over Trump is totally dependent upon her voters aged 18-34, the least likely to show up to vote for an ill-tempered, incontinent old woman.
I am unabashedly skeptical about what, if anything, favorable/unfavorable ratings mean. Perhaps if one candidate is wildly unpopular then they may lose a few votes by people who can’t be bothered or they might energize the opposition to come out and vote against them. In the main, I think unless you have a person who can draw people by personal charisma, like Obama, then this number is of dubious value. Having said that.
When you look at the “independents” that everyone is so infatuated with, both Cruz and Rubio perform well. Arguably, Rubio is a bit stronger but the differences are all within MOE. Cruz seems to be marginally stronger with Republicans, but again this difference is statistical noise.
I omitted Donald Trump because I’m not convinced he will be around for long if the polls tighten and the votes start to be cast. I am of the orthodox RedState view that the GOP contest boils down to a Cruz versus Rubio cage match.
The good news is that Cruz is not the “likability” trainwreck the Rubio candi-bots have made him out to be. He is much, much less polarizing than Hillary Clinton and is positive with independents. His weaknesses are women and college graduates. But, as the head-to-head match-ups showed, he is as competitive with Hillary as Rubio is.
The real question here is, of course, is if the number for Trump is real or if this poll is simply an outlier. If it is real, then we’re seeing the begin of the end of the Trump phenomenon. If not, well, it will be a fun season to be a political blogger.