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FoxNews released a new poll on Friday. As I've said many times, at this stage of the game it is foolish to focus on specific numbers. Divining what the voting cohort of November 2016 will look like is virtually impossible. But what the polls, taken as a group, can show us are trends. First we'll look at the topline numbers and then try to scratch around in the seething, effervescing puddle of intergers and see what we can see.

National Topline.

Trump 35, Cruz 20, Rubio 13, Carson 10, Christie 2, Bush 4, Paul 2, Fiorina 3, Kasich 2, Huckabee 1, Santorum 0.

No suprises here. It shows what all other polls have been showing. Trump leads the field. Cruz is in a solid second place. Rubio is in a solid third place. Carson seems to have staunched the bleeding but I suspect he is nearly broke and will be out of the race before the SEC primary on March 1. The GOP Establishment candidates -- Bush, Christie, and Kasich -- are tied with the rest of the field at what is within the Margin of Error of zero. Trump has stagnated and may -- or may not -- be declining.

rcp average 1-9-16

Iowa Topline.

Cruz 27, Trump 23, Rubio 15, Carson 9, Bush 7, Huckabee 2, Paul 5, Christie 4, Fiorina 1, Kasich 1, Santorum 1.

Back just before Christmas, Gravis also did an Iowa poll, Gravis, as you know, was the gold standard for Iowa polling in 2014.

Cruz 31, Trump 31, Rubio 9, Carson 7, Bush 4, Huckabee 4, Paul 1, Christie 2, Fiorina 3, Kasich 2, Santorum 0.

This also reflects what we've been reading. Cruz is solidifying his lead in Iowa and, absent a apocalyptic event, will win it. Trump is probably sliding, though I think things have happened to make Trump's Iowa decline less of a done deal than I would have postulated only a week ago. Rubio has to seen as a clear third place because it is doubtful Carson people are going to turn out for a candidate who is on an iron lung in an ObamaCare hospital. The interesting position to watch here is where Bush finishes. If he finishes in fifth, or if Christie vaults in front of him, his campaign is over.

New Hampshire Topline.

Trump 33, Rubio 15, Cruz 12, Christie 5, Kasich 7, Bush 9, Carson 4, Fiorina 3, Paul 5, Huckabee 0, Santorum 0.

Compare to PPP

Trump 29, Rubio 15, Cruz 10, Christie 11, Kasich 11, Bush 10, Carson 4, Fiorina 4, Paul 3, Huckabee 1, Santorum 1.

Again, we have the same trend. Trump has a solid lead, and we can assume he will win the primary barring something Yuuuge. Rubio is in second place though not so far ahead of Cruz that we can be sure he has the lead. Christie, Bush, and Kasich are wrestling for the RINO vote. In my view, the two stories to look for here are how Rubio and Cruz finish... if Cruz slips into second this may be a quicker primary than many had thought... and how the RINOs sort it out. If Jeb does not finish in fourth and do so convincingly he may drop out of the race.

Head to head matchups.

Clinton 44, Trump 47

Statistically tied, but Trump is bumping at the margin of error.

This is inline with what we have been seeing. Trump is the weakest GOP candidate and even so he seems to be pulling away from Clinton. The last two polls Rasmussen (Clinton 39, Trump 37) and CNN/ORC (Clinton 49, Trump 47) had them tied as opposed to earlier polls with a Clinton lead. In my opinion, this is a direct result of Clinton's high unfavorability rating and universal name recognition. Opposition to her is baked in.

Based on what I posted on earlier today, the Gallup poll showing Trump with higher favorability ratings that Bush, Kasich, or Christie, I think we are at a point where more and more people see Trump as a viable candidate. Once he passes that test, he can beat Hillary in the general election.

Cruz 50, Clinton 43

If this is true the election is over. A compartively unknown challenger hitting 50% against what might as well be an incumbent is death. It will only get worse.

Earlier polls showed Cruz +2 (CNN/ORC) and tied (Quinnipiac). Again this is tied not only to Cruz's high favorability rating but Hillary's deep unpopularity.

Rubio 50, Clinton 41

Same as above. If this holds, the game is over.

Rubio's unique strength against Hillary is more the product of wishful thinking of the GOP Establishment. If we take the poll round up of Cruz and Rubio against Clinton we see that Rubio has never been outside-Margin-of-Error stronger than Cruz.
rubio v clinton

cruz v clinton

Clinton 44, Bush 44

A rising tide lifts all boats, or a boat with a hole in the bottom makes the water look higher. While Bush has dropped out of contention as a GOP candidate, ironically he now polls better against Clinton than he did when he announced his candidacy.

Take-aways

Trump is at the point where he must be regarded as a serious contender. He has high favorability with GOP voters and he is showing himself the equal of Hillary in polling. He is not going to vanish and the old strategy of thinking voters will coalesce about a non-Trump alternative looks less likely. He is going to have to be vanquished.

The caterwauling about Ted Cruz not being able to beat Ted Cruz needs to cease. He can.

Marco Rubio is at a turning point. If he finishes third or worse in Iowa and third or worse again in New Hampshire we can say his candidacy is over. The famed Nevada firewall is blue smoke and mirrors because Rubio is in third in Nevada:

Trump 33, Cruz 20, Rubio 11, Carson 6, Christie 5, Bush 5, Fiorina 5, Paul 1, Santorum 1, Kasich 0, Huckabee 0

And Rubio is in the same third place in the last Florida poll. It is nearly impossible to imagine Rubio finishing third in NH, third in NV, losing the SEC primary and finishing third in FL and winning the nomination.

Hillary is a very weak candidate whose support is slipping away. This is only going to get worse as the season progresses and the email scandal is resolved. Her universal name recognition and low favorability means that her campaign is now one of hoping that her GOP opponent implodes.

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