I thought that, with Iowa only 65 days away now, we needed a thread for discussing the overall state of play in the race for the GOP Presidential nomination, rather than having to discuss developments that affect multiple candidates in the thread for one candidate or another.
This is especially true since the race has taken on a definite shape lately, now that Ben Carson’s support is apparently declining, and Jeb!'s campaign seems on its way to being a very expensive footnote. What we’re left with is Trump, Cruz, and Rubio.
Trump’s either been leading in the national polls, or (briefly) tied with Carson for the lead, since mid-July. His support in conventional polls has remained steady in the mid to upper 20s over the past two months.
His support in Internet polls has tended to be in the 30s during that period. OTOH, many commentators think that much of Trump’s support comes from people who aren’t all that likely to actually show up for the primary voting. IMHO, the natural corrective is to ignore the Internet polls on the assumption that his greater support in those polls is roughly the fraction of his support that won’t show up on game day, so to speak.
Rubio’s become the de facto Establishment choice now that Jeb’s faded. (And given Jeb’s 27/50 approval/disapproval among Republicans, I don’t see him coming back, no matter how much money his super-PAC is holding in reserve.) But Rubio’s polling numbers are still mostly in the 11-14 range, even in New Hampshire, which is starting to look like Rubio’s make-or-break state, because if he doesn’t win there, he’s on unfavorable terrain well into March. Rubio has to find a way to stay competitive until the calendar starts favoring him from late March onward.
While Cruz is polling in that same range nationally, he’s polling in the low 20s Iowa, in a virtual tie with Trump there. And unlike Trump, Cruz has a ground game there, so a tie in the polls surely translates into a Cruz win on caucus night. Also, Cruz is better suited than Trump for picking up Carson’s supporters as they have second thoughts about Carson. So Cruz is looking good in Iowa, and that sets him up for doing well in South Carolina and in the SEC primary at the beginning of March.
Carson’s still polling in the upper teens, so he’s still a factor. But mostly in the sense of ‘how much support will he actually retain as the primaries approach, and who picks up the supporters he loses?’ sense. The answer to the latter question is probably, mostly Cruz, and the rest to Rubio.
We talked about Jeb. A pile of money is still in his super-PAC, but that 27/50 number (Q1 here) says it’s not going to do him any good.
At the same link, Kasich’s favorable/unfavorable numbers are 25/37, which says that most of the Republicans who’ve thought about him enough to have an opinion, don’t like him. So he’s got a chance in the fact that over a third of Republicans don’t yet have a strong opinion about him. But he’s dead unless he can beat out Rubio in the Establishment lane, and he’s got to do it in NH. Nah, not happening.
And none of the others are a factor anymore, other than who gets Christie’s or Paul’s or Huckabee’s 3% support when they drop out.
Anyhow, with 65 days to Iowa, shit’s starting to get real here. Everybody in the clown car had better have their seat belts fastened, because it’ll be a wild ride.