Nov. 23, 2015 — Reporters from several news publications, such as The Hill newspaper, along with various commentators are mis-reading the latest polls*. They’re trying to craft a premise that Donald Trump is again spiking, and that his improved status is directly related to the France massacre. But, the survey data are consistently revealing a much different point.
Considering that Trump ranges from between 23 and 38 percent support in all of these studies, taking into account their various sampling groups and methodological factors, isn’t much different than where he’s been standing for months. Trump continues to place first in most polls, but is far from the 50 percent majority figure he will need to capture the nomination.
The missed point is that these polls and other research conclusions are beginning to reveal a separation among the candidates. Most recent polling consistently shows that the top tier revolves around Trump, Dr. Ben Carson, Sen. Marco Rubio and Sen. Ted Cruz, with Jeb Bush falling into the second tier but remaining within striking distance of the upper echelon.
While true that the third and fourth place finishers in these studies sometimes do not touch double-digits, the standing order appears consistent throughout most of the survey research that now resides in the public sector.
Before, the data seemed to indicate that the race was wide open, and that at least 10 of the original 17 candidates might have found a reasonable path to victory. Now that three – former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal – have fallen by the political wayside, the campaign is seemingly separating into three distinct tiers.
The first contains the aforementioned Trump, Carson, Rubio, and Cruz, seemingly in that order. Former Gov. Bush leads the second tier that also includes, in ranked order: Gov. John Kasich, businesswoman Carly Fiorina, Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Rand Paul, and former Gov. Mike Huckabee. The third tier hosts former Sen. Rick Santorum, Sen. Lindsey Graham, New York ex-Gov. George Pataki, and former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore. At this point, only Santorum has some chance of moving up from this latter subset largely based upon his surprise performance from four years ago. The final three are virtually non-existent candidates.
A continuing further point is that none of the candidates are even close to capturing a majority vote in any state. Since the Republican nomination will be decided by an absolute majority of Republican National Convention delegates, with all states being bound by the voters’ choices on at least the first ballot, the real question that must be answered is how does Trump, or any of the other candidates, amass a majority of committed delegate support when the primary/caucus schedule concludes?
If a candidate can attract that type of eventual support, then the Republicans will have a nominee. If not, and it is this latter situation that appears the more likely one today, the 2,470 GOP delegates will have to determine the winner themselves at an open or “brokered” convention.
*The surveys cited: Public Policy Polling’s national poll (Nov. 16-19; 607 likely Republican primary voters) finding Trump topping Carson, Cruz and Rubio respectively 26-19-14-13 percent; WBUR-MassInc Polling (Nov. 14-15; 405 likely New Hampshire Republican primary voters), 23-13-13-8 percent for Trump, Carson, Rubio, Cruz; the Morning Consult national poll (Nov. 13-16; 2,001 registered voters on a weekly track; 774 self-identified Republicans), 38-19-7-7 percent for Trump, Carson, Cruz, Rubio; Fox New Hampshire (Nov. 15-17; 353 likely New Hampshire Republican primary voters) 27-13-11-9-9 percent for Trump, Rubio, Cruz, ex-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and Carson; while Florida Atlantic University (Nov. 15-16; 355 likely Florida Republican primary voters) finds Trump leading 36-18-15-10-9 percent over Sen. Rubio, Dr. Carson, Sen. Cruz, and ex-Gov. Bush, respectively.