Monday, November 02, 2015

Third GOP Debate Shortens Field

 Cruz                        Rubio                        Trump                          Carson
"we believe there are really only four candidates with a reasonable chance of becoming the Republican nominee: Senator Marco Rubio, Dr. Ben Carson, Donald Trump, and Senator Ted Cruz."

--Marco Rubio Campaign

The Rubio campaign analysis seems correct. Following the October 28 GOP debate botched by CNBC, Ted Cruz is closing in on the Republican “outsider insider” conservative vote. At the same time, Marco Rubio has apparently broken in front of a large, qualified pack of candidates seeking to become the GOP establishment’s leading choice--in the process passing Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, John Kasich, and departed Scott Walker and Rick Perry.

So the Republican contest might come down to Rubio v. Cruz after all. That would be news to Trump and Ben Carson. They have topped national polls since Carson passed Bush in late August (Trump’s been #1 in the RealClearPolitics average since July 19).

Trump and Carson remain well out in front. If Republicans continue to prefer an outsider, it will be Trump or Carson. Carson is Dr. anti-Trump; his support comes from Republicans who love Trump’s hostility toward the elite, but can’t stand the man. Carson provides an acceptable alternative to Trump, meaning love him or hate him, Trump dominates either way.

In line with our analysis, Carson, Trump, Rubio, and Cruz lead the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll taken over 5 days, including the day after CNBC’s GOP debate:

Carson 29%
Trump 23%
Rubio 11%
Cruz 10%

Monmouth University has a poll run entirely after the debate, but limited just to New Hampshire:

Trump 26%
Carson 16%
Rubio 13% (up from 4%)
Kasich 11%
Cruz 9%

Trump runs ahead of Carson and Kasich ahead of Cruz in secular New Hampshire; Both Cruz and Carson draw from the Christian right.

The latest Iowa poll, the Democratic PPP Poll, also took place after the last Republican debate. Iowa GOP caucus attendees are overwhelmingly evangelical-conservative. So no surprise that Christian conservatives Carson and Cruz dominate in Iowa--Carson even with Trump, and Cruz moving ahead of Rubio:

Trump 22%
Carson 21%
Cruz 14%
Rubio 10%

In all new polls, Bush trails the four new leaders.

Kim Strassel, writing in the conservative Wall Street Journal, expects Rubio and Cruz to be two of the last three standing (she also likes Chris Christie). Strassel explains why:
Republican voters want[:] a great communicator, an effective advocate for their cause. They haven’t had one since Reagan, and the Bushes and McCains and Romneys have highlighted how big a problem that is.
The two Cuban Americans, Rubio and Cruz, are both 44. They aspire to be the Republican John Kennedy as much as the next Reagan, trading on youth as did our first Catholic president.

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