Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Poll numbers combine with history to suggest Trump might win the GOP nomination

What could be scarier? (OK, Cruz, I guess.)

In addition to reporting some more polling results, Steve Benen puts Trump and the polls in historical context.

About a week ago, a Monmouth University poll showed Donald Trump crossing a striking threshold: the survey showed the New York developer reaching 41% in the Republican primary at the national level. The obvious question was whether this was an outlier to be dismissed or evidence of Trump’s ceiling reaching new heights.

The evidence now points towards the latter. A day after the Monmouth poll was released, a Washington Post/ABC News poll showed Trump leading the GOP pack with 38%. And on Friday, a Fox News poll, conducted entirely after last week’s debate, raised even more eyebrows:

  1. Donald Trump: 39% (up from 28% in November)
  2. Ted Cruz: 18% (up from 14%)
  3. Marco Rubio: 11% (down from 14%)
  4. Ben Carson: 9% (down from 18%)

Every other competitor in the Republican field was at 3% or lower, including Jeb Bush, who’s down to 3%, which is his lowest point to date. At the top, Trump’s national 39% support is the strongest performance of any GOP candidate in any Fox poll this year, and his 21-point lead – he’s now ahead of Cruz, Rubio, and Carson combined – is also the largest advantage any Republican has enjoyed in 2015.

There’s also the latest survey from Public Policy Polling, which was also conducted entirely after last week’s debate:

  1. Donald Trump: 34% (up from 26% in November)
  2. Ted Cruz: 18% (up from 14%)
  3. Marco Rubio: 13% (unchanged)
  4. Jeb Bush: 7% (up from 5%)
  5. Ben Carson: 6% (down from 19%)

So Trump is 20% ahead of the nearest competitor (and scores higher than the next two combined).

Benen asks "When was the last time a Republican presidential candidate led by more than 20 points in late December and failed to win his party’s nomination?"

And answers: "Never. It just hasn’t happened." He concludes:

Am I saying Trump is going to win the nomination? Not exactly. I am saying we’re looking at a dynamic in which we’ll either see (a) the biggest Republican collapse in modern American history; or (b) the first Republican nominee since 1940 with no experience in public office.

Either way, we’re going to see a result without modern precedent. Buckle up.

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