Race For The GOP Nomination All About Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, And A Panicking GOP

With less than a week to go before voting starts, Donald Trump continues to dominate the GOP race, with Ted Cruz the only candidate even close to looking like a viable challenger.

Donald Trump SpeakingWith less than a week to go before the Iowa Caucuses, and two weeks to go before the New Hampshire Primary, the story of the race for the Republican nomination continues to be the story of the utter dominance of Donald Trump, with only Iowa standing as a state where Trump is facing a challenge in the form of Ted Cruz. Everywhere else you look, in the national polls, in New Hampshire, and in South Carolina, there’s Donald Trump, and then there’s everyone else, and there’s still little sign that this is about to change any time soon. All of this is confirmed in a trio of new national polls as well as a handful of state polls all being released on the eve of the cut-off for the determination of who will qualify for the final Republican debate before voting begins:

First up, there’s a new Fox News national poll showing Trump with a fourteen point lead over Cruz:

Donald Trump leads the Republican field by a significant margin heading into the Iowa caucuses, according to a Fox News national poll out Friday.

The businessman has 34 percent of those surveyed, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz comes in second at 20 percent, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has 11 percent and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson has 8 percent.

Everyone else has 4 percent or less. Combined, the top four GOP contenders account for nearly three-quarters of those surveyed.

The poll also found that few Republican voters are much fussed about Trump’s recent attacks on Cruz’s citizenship — 88 percent said it was not a concern, and only 10 percent said it would make them less likely to vote for Cruz. Sixty-one percent of registered voters in the poll said that Cruz is eligible to be president, while 27 percent said they don’t believe he is. (For this question, respondents were first prompted with the fact that “The U.S. Constitution requires the president to be a natural-born citizen.”)

Other results pointed at why outsider candidates like Trump and Cruz continue to dominate the race: Eighty-five percent of Republican voters surveyed said they were either angry or dissatisfied with the way the federal government was running, which includes 39 percent who specifically said they were angry.

A new CNN/ORC poll, meanwhile, gives Trump a 22 point lead over Cruz and has Trump breaking the 40% barrier:

Donald Trump has hit a new high in the race for the Republican nomination, according to a new CNN/ORC Poll, with more than 4-in-10 Republican voters nationwide now saying they back the billionaire.

And more than two-thirds of Republicans say he’s the candidate most likely to capture their party’s presidential nomination.

Trump has topped the 40% mark for the first time in CNN/ORC polling, standing at 41%. That more than doubles the support of his nearest competitor, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who notches 19% support in the poll. No other candidate hit double-digits. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio landed at 8%, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson at 6%, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at 5%, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at 4%, and the rest at 3% or less.

Despite the new high-mark for Trump, the GOP race remains fairly stable compared with where it was in the most recent CNN/ORC poll in late December.

In that poll, Trump stood at 39%, Cruz at 18% and Rubio at 10%. Carson’s 4-point dip, from 10% to 6%, between the two surveys is the largest change in the field, and it is not large enough to be a statistically significant change given the new poll’s 5-point margin of sampling error.

Trump’s lead is clearly significant, however, and the poll finds him well ahead of the field among a range of GOP subgroups. He leads among both men and women, younger and older voters, white evangelicals, conservatives and both self-identified Republicans and independents who lean toward the party.

There are two subgroups where Trump’s lead is less dominant: college graduates and tea party supporters. Even among those groups, however, he remains at the head of the pack. Among those holding degrees, 26% back Trump, 20% Cruz, and tea party supporters split 37% for Trump, 34% for Cruz.

Trump’s supporters are more likely than those backing other candidates to say that they’ve definitely made up their mind (70% of Trump’s supporters say they are locked in compared with 40% who back other candidates).

And the prospect of a Trump candidacy generates more enthusiasm overall (40% of Republican voters say they would be enthusiastic about a Trump nomination) than the possibility of Cruz (25% enthusiastic) or Rubio (18% enthusiastic) at the head of the ticket.

Trump’s dominance continues when voters assess which of the GOP candidates would best handle top issues.

Trump holds his widest advantage on handling the economy: 60% of GOP voters say Trump would best handle it, a 48-point lead over Ted Cruz. Likewise, Trump has a 55% to 16% edge on handling illegal immigration.

His margin is smaller, though still significant, on handling foreign policy. Republican voters in the poll rated terrorism their most important issue in considering a candidate for president: 49% called it “extremely important,” outpacing the share calling the economy, government spending or illegal immigration as central to their vote.

Trump has gained ground over the course of the campaign on the values issues that are often meaningful among Republican primary voters.

The share who say Trump would do the best job on social issues has grown from 15% in September to 28%. Cruz trails Trump by just 4 points on that matter.

And about one-third of Republicans say they think Trump is the candidate who “best represents the values of Republicans like yourself,” 34% choose Trump, 9 points ahead of Cruz at 25%. No other candidate hits double-digits on that measure.

Trump’s case for the presidency rests at least in part on his standing as a political outsider. The poll finds that a broad swath of GOP voters (55%) say they feel completely unrepresented by the government in Washington, and among those voters, Trump holds a 47% to 19% lead over Cruz.

The poll also finds Trump is widely seen as the candidate best able to win in November: 63% of Republicans say so, compared with 16% who see Cruz as best positioned to win and 10% who name Rubio.

Finally, the new ABC News/Washington Post poll gives Trump a sixteen point lead over Cruz and shows that nearly two-thirds of Republicans would back Trump if he were the nominee, a dramatic reversal from the summer when polling was showing many Republicans rejecting Trump outright:

One week before the first votes of the 2016 campaign are cast, Donald Trump has solidified his standing nationally, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. Republicans see Trump as strongest candidate on major issues and by far the most electable in the large field of GOP hopefuls.

The Republican electorate is in a sour mood as its members prepare to begin the process of picking a presidential nominee. Almost 9 in 10 say the country is seriously off on the wrong track, and more than 8 in 10 are dissatisfied with the way the federal government works, including nearly 4 in 10 who say they’re angry about it.

Two-thirds worry about maintaining their current living standard, more than 6 in 10 say people with similar values are losing influence in American life, and about half say the nation’s best days are behind it. Half also say immigrants mainly weaken American society, compared with 55 percent of the overall population who say immigrants strengthen America.

Amid this political climate, Trump has maintained his place atop the Republican field for six months. He currently receives the support of 37 percent of registered Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, almost identical to the 38 percent support he enjoyed a month ago.

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas runs second in the national survey with 21 percent, surpassing his previous high of 15 percent in December. Third place belongs to Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida at 11 percent, virtually unchanged from 12 percent a month ago.

Rounding out the field are Ben Carson at 7 percent, former Florida governor Jeb Bush at 5, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at 4, businesswoman Carly Fiorina at 3, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and Ohio Gov. John Kasich at 2 percent each, and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky at 1. Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum registered less than 1 percent.

When first and second choices are combined, Trump is named by 49 percent, Cruz by 39 percent and Rubio by 32 percent — well ahead of the others.

At this point in presidential campaigns, as the primary season is beginning, candidates’ support can be tenuous and shift quickly in response to the first state-level contests. Results in Iowa, which holds its caucuses Monday, and in New Hampshire, which votes eight days later, often scramble national numbers. Trump enters this crucial phase strong nationally, but it isn’t clear what a loss in Iowa would do to his support.

But The Post-ABC survey offers some clues. Trump’s supporters appear more committed to him than do people backing other candidates. A majority (57 percent) of Trump supporters say they will definitely vote for him. For all the other candidates, 34 percent are as firmly committed, while nearly two-thirds say they could still change their minds.

Trump’s committed support exceeds that the previous Republican nominee received prior to the Iowa caucuses four years ago: 36 percent of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s supporters said then that they would definitely support his candidacy.

(…)

Although there was resistance to his candidacy at the beginning, Trump now is broadly acceptable to GOP voters. About 2 of 3 Republicans say they would find him acceptable as their nominee, a percentage almost identical to Cruz’s and Rubio’s. Rubio is seen as the least unacceptable, followed by Cruz, Carson and then Trump. Only about half of Republicans say Christie and Bush are acceptable, and Bush has the highest “unacceptable” percentage at 45.

(…)

The new Post-ABC survey suggests that a sizable majority of Republicans believe that whatever happens in those early states, Trump will emerge with the nomination — a dramatic shift from when he first entered the race in June to mixed reviews and overcame widespread unfavorable impressions among GOP voters before his campaign launched. Today, more than 6 in 10 Republicans say Trump is most likely to win the nomination, up from 4 in 10 in the late fall.

Trump leads among nearly all demographic groups, including a narrow advantage among white evangelical Christians, a key target of the Cruz campaign. Trump’s strongest support comes from those with incomes below $50,000. Previous surveys showed Trump with significantly more support among those lacking a college degree, compared with those who have graduated from college. The new survey finds no significant difference.

The reality TV star scores best among those who are most dissatisfied with government and the country’s direction and with those who say they prefer someone from outside the political system rather than a candidate with political experience. Overall, a bare majority of Republicans say they are looking for an outsider, while just over 4 in 10 who want someone with experience in politics.

Trump maintains similar leads in the two major online tracking polls as well, with the NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll showing him leading Ted Cruz 39% to 17%, followed by Marco Rubio at 10% an no other candidate in double digits. In the Reuters/Ipsos poll, Trump stands at 40.6%, followed by Ted Cruz (10.5%), Ben Carson (9.7%), Jeb Bush (9.2%), and Marco Rubio (7.2%) with no other candidate getting above 5%.  With the new polling the RealClearPolitics national average, Trump (36.2%) has a 16.2 point lead over Ted Cruz (19.5%), followed by Marco Rubio (11.0), Ben Carson (7.8%), Jeb Bush (5.0%), and Chris Christie (3.7%). All the other candidates are averaging below three percent nationally. The results are similar in Pollster’s broader measure of polls.

The clear lesson of the national polls, then, is that Donald Trump maintains the lead that he’s had in the Republican race since August, and that there’s no sign of that lead shrinking or anyone seriously challenging it at this point. As we get closer to the actual voting, though, it is of course the state-level polling that actually matters, but there too Trump continues to have an advantage over his opponents. In Iowa, a new poll from Quinnipiac gives Trump a two point lead over Ted Cruz, and while this is smaller than other recent polling from the Hawkeye State it’s still enough to give Trump a 5.7 point average lead in the state according to RealClearPolitics. In New Hampshire, a new poll from the Boston Herald and Franklin Pierce University gives Trump a nineteen point lead in the Granite State, a number that is consistent with recent polling from Fox News and CBS News that show Trump leading by seventeen and eighteen points respectively, all of which is enough to give Trump a 19.5 point average lead in the state one week before the primary. Finally, the latest poll out of South Carolina gives Trump a nineteen point lead which is enough to give him an average lead of more than sixteen points in the Palmetto State.

The most immediate impact of all this new polling will be in determining who participates in Thursday’s final debate before voting begins. Fox News Channel is using essentially the same criteria that Fox Business Network did to determine eligibility in the last debate, meaning that a candidate must finish in the top six in the most recent mainstream national polls, or in the top five in the most recent mainstream polling in New Hampshire or Iowa. For the most part, it appears that the makeup of the debate stage will be the same on Thursday as it was last week, except that it does appear that Senator Rand Paul is once again on the bubble, with his make or break numbers coming from Iowa, If he can finish in the top five in the polls released by the end of the day today, he’ll join the seven others on the main stage. If not, he’ll be relegated again to the undercard debate along with Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, and Carly Fiorina. We’ll know the answer to that question when Fox News announces the debate lineup tonight.

What all of this polling tells us is that, at least at the moment, the race for the Republican nomination is basically a race between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, followed by a bunch of also rans, none of which seem to be well positioned to turn the race into a three or four person race in the wake of the early primaries in February. Marco Rubio continues to sit in the third place position for the most part, but his position is relatively stagnant and the questions about his campaign strategy persist notwithstanding the fact that he received an arguably important endorsement in Iowa over the weekend. One potential surprise candidate is Ohio Governor John Kasich, who has been moving up in the polls in New Hampshire to the point where he now sits at third place in the RealClearPolitics average in the Granite State. What’s unclear about Kasich, though, is whether he has the resources or the organization to exploit any good press he may get out of a good performance in New Hampshire. If he doesn’t then Kasich is likely to become this cycle’s Jon Huntsman, a candidate who performed better than expected in one primary but was unable to do anything with it going forward.

All of this is leaving the GOP and its leaders with quite a dilemma on their hands:

DES MOINES — Republican leaders are growing alarmed by the ferocious ways the party’s mainstream candidates for president are attacking one another, and they fear that time is running out for any of them to emerge as a credible alternative to Donald J. Trump or Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.

Leaders of the Republican establishment, made up of elected officials, lobbyists and donors, are also sending a message to the mainstream candidates, such as former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, that they should withdraw from the race if they do not show strength soon.

The members of the party establishment are growing impatient as they watch Mr. Trump and Mr. Cruz dominate the field heading into the Iowa caucuses next Monday and the New Hampshire primary about a week later.

The party elders had hoped that one of their preferred candidates, such as Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, would be rising above the others by now and becoming a contender to rally around.

Instead, they have a muddled field of battered mainstream candidates: Mr. Bush, Mr. Rubio, Gov. John R. Kasich of Ohio and Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey.

“There’s a mounting sense of urgency among donors that the weak performers need to go ahead and get out,” said Steven Law, the president of American Crossroads, a Republican “super PAC.”

(…)

The cumulative effect of all the ads, and corresponding attacks through harshly worded mailings, has been to stunt the growth of the so-called establishment candidates, keeping them clustered together in New Hampshire polls while Mr. Trump soars.

“These guys are so busy fighting one another that they’re only continuing to facilitate the rise of Trump and Cruz,” complained Representative Tom Cole, Republican of Oklahoma, a longtime Republican strategist.

After the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 1, and the New Hampshire primary eight days later, the pressure on those candidates who are lagging in the polls will intensify.

“Whoever is not named Trump and not named Cruz that looks strong out of both Iowa and New Hampshire, we should consolidate around,” said Henry Barbour, an influential Republican strategist based in Mississippi.

The results in Iowa and New Hampshire are likely to lead to a significant winnowing of the field on the Republican side, both in reality and effectively. Absent a better showing than they have demonstrated in any polling, both of the Republicans who won the last two Iowa Caucuses, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, seem likely to drop out after Iowa. The winnowing of the rest of the field will have to wait until at least New Hampshire, though. If only one of the “establishment” candidates — Kasich, Bush, Rubio, and Christie — emerges with a showing that can be called respectable then pressure will mount on the other three to step aside to allow the race to consolidate. That could be complicated, though, if two or more of those candidates finish very close to each other, thus giving more than one candidate a credible argument for staying in the race.  Additionally, expected disappointing showings in both states ought to cause Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, and Rand Paul to examine the logic of staying in the race but it’s unclear how much pressure will be put on any of them since it’s clear that none of these three candidates are likely to be viable challengers to Trump and Cruz. So, in the end, the first two primaries could leave us with a race where the establishment finally finds a candidate to rally behind who can take advantage of a newly open field, or the field could remain as muddled as it is today. In either case, what’s unclear is whether there would be enough time for an “establishment” challenger to be able to mount a competitive challenge to the combined Trump/Cruz juggernaut. If there isn’t, then the GOP could find the two must unpalatable and unelectable candidates in full control of the race all the way to Cleveland.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Campaign 2016, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. gVOR08 says:

    Eighty-five percent of Republican voters surveyed said they were either angry or dissatisfied with the way the federal government was running, which includes 39 percent who specifically said they were angry.

    The triumph of the Conservative Entertainment Complex. Hope all you Republicans are proud of it. Or do you still believe all this just fell out of the sky on you? And Little Jebbie! will somehow triumph in the end?

    Caught Trump being “interviewed” on Morning Joe. Scarborough was in full suck-up mode. An early adopter of the GOP establishment’s capitulation.

  2. Grumpy Realist says:

    And over at American Thinker they’re all busy calling each other RINOs and saying how “far-left” Obama is.

    Sometimes I think we should just say The Hell With It, cut the US in half, put Republicans in one half and Democrats in the other half. I can’t understand a mindset that calls the EPA evil, especially in the light of Flint.

  3. CSK says:

    Kasich got the endorsement of The Boston Globe, and Christie got the endorsement of the Boston Herald and the New Hampshire Union Leader. I don’t know what effect this will have on the primary.

  4. CSK says:

    @Grumpy Realist:

    Or just give the Trumpkins their own turf, let them have their Savior/Dictator/BigDaddy, and let the rest of us go about our business.

  5. C. Clavin says:

    Butters on Trump/Cruz:

    “It’s like being shot or poisoned… what does it really matter?”

    Colbert on Trump/Cruz:

    “Crump”

  6. CSK says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Cruz doesn’t concern me, because even if he got the nomination, he’d never win the general. I think that’s also true of Trump.

  7. gVOR08 says:

    @Grumpy Realist:

    Sometimes I think we should just say The Hell With It, cut the US in half, put Republicans in one half and Democrats in the other half.

    The problem is it’s more urban/rural than red state/blue state. So we’d have to pick several Confederate and Cowboy states as the dumping ground, do massive deportation, and end up having to build a yuuuge wall.

  8. al-Ameda says:

    This is remarkably great theater.

    This campaign has been going on for months and months, and yet, to-date no votes have been cast, and no caucuses have been officially polled. All we have so far are: (1) debates and (2) polling. Nothing except candidates vetting themselves.

  9. Davebo says:

    1. Denial

    2. Anger

    3. Bargaining

    4. Depression

    5. Acceptance

  10. al-Ameda says:

    @gVOR08:

    The problem is it’s more urban/rural than red state/blue state. So we’d have to pick several Confederate and Cowboy states as the dumping ground, do massive deportation, and end up having to build a yuuuge wall

    Maybe we could get some kind of corporate sponsorship to pay for that wall – maybe Uber, or Univision? If not, I’m willing to pay higher taxes to have that wall built

  11. ElizaJane says:

    It’s not just Republicans who should be panicking. This man could be elected president. The Democrats could nominate Sanders, when 59% of Americans say they would never vote for a Socialist for president — worse than an atheist or a Muslim. And while you could certainly argue that Sanders’ actual positions are in line with what many Americans want, the Republican campaign against him would be brutal.

  12. C. Clavin says:

    @Grumpy Realist:

    over at American Thinker

    Please stop making me go look at that cesspool of ignorance.

  13. C. Clavin says:

    @ElizaJane:

    the Republican campaign against him would be brutal.

    The Republican campaign against whomever is going to be brutal. When you take a party flailing about in abject ignorance, whose only motivational tool is fear and anger, then brutal is all that is left. This is no longer the party of William F. and the National Review. This is a party created in the image of it’s leaders; Hannity, Limbaugh, Drudge. All they have is hate. With the GOP completely un-tehthered from reality on one side of the election, there cannot be an election about ideas or solutions or principals. Only fear, and anger and hate. White male resentment. And it’s going to be brutal.

  14. CSK says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Well, it’s a reasonable excuse to become an American Drinker.

  15. CSK says:

    @gVOR08:

    And don’t forget we’d have to subsidize the United States of Trump as well,since none of them can make it without my tax money. I guess it would come under the heading of foreign aid.

  16. ElizaJane says:

    @C. Clavin: Oh, I’m sure the Republican campaign against Hillary would be brutal. But it already is, and has been for years. They have nothing new and everybody has heard it all before; moreover, after watching Hillary at the Benghazi hearings, we know she can handle it. She could handle Trump. With Bernie, everything would be new, and I don’t know exactly how he would handle Trump. I’m not sanguine about it.

  17. Ron Beasley says:

    @Grumpy Realist:I have thought for many years we simply should have let the South succeed. Of course the downside would have been a third world country on our southern border..

  18. Pete S says:

    88 percent said it was not a concern, and only 10 percent said it would make them less likely to vote for Cruz. Sixty-one percent of registered voters in the poll said that Cruz is eligible to be president, while 27 percent said they don’t believe he is.

    Again, this is the Republican base voter in a nutshell. It appears that at least 15% of them believe that Ted Cruz is not eligible to be president but that would not affect how likely they are to vote for him. I would really like to believe that means those people had written him off already. But I get the feeling that they are just making up their opinions as they go along with no worries about facts or consistency.

  19. CSK says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    So we’d need a yuuuuge wall where the Mason-Dixon line is, right?

  20. Moosebreath says:

    @ElizaJane:

    This. Bernie has not been the subject of Republican attacks yet. Much of their playbook against Kerry or Obama can be reused (he’s a socialist, he’d raise taxes, etc.), and this time they’d actually be correct.

  21. Moosebreath says:

    @CSK:

    A bit further south — Maryland, DC, and at least Northern Virginia would need to be on the northern side of it. And one separating the Pacific Coast from the Mountain states. And one separating the industrial Midwest from the farming portions. And so on.

  22. Jen says:

    Ideally, the GOP establishment would be coalescing around a candidate, but none of them seem to have much to go on.

    I’m in NH, and from what I’ve seen, Kasich does seem to be gaining some ground here. Jeb! isn’t doing much of anything that I can see, Christie is continuing to attend town halls. Even if Kasich comes in 2nd or 3rd, will Jeb!’s supporters cash in their chips and throw their weight behind Kasich? I just don’t see it. Rubio might be getting attention from the Des Moines Register, but he’s nowhere to be found in NH. I’m guessing he’s writing it off.

    It looks to me like they are all planning on continuing to limp along–Rubio and Jeb! in particular seem intent on staying in until Florida votes.

  23. gVOR08 says:

    @ElizaJane:
    Doesn’t matter. They’ll be just as brutal, probably worse, with Hillary.

    @Ron Beasley:

    Of course the downside would have been a third world country on our southern border.

    And TX and FL aside, this would be different how?

    I lived in Arlington for two years in the early 70s. Constantly remarked we should have let them go. However, there’s no limit to how fine you can slice the pie. Had we allowed the precedent to stand, we’d now be looking at Nassau County seceding from the Republic of Long Island.

  24. Facebones says:

    I’m not sure if Trump will win Iowa. The caucus system is dependent on turnout, and I don’t think the ground game for Trump is all that yuuge.

    Also, the Iowa caucuses are incredibly corrupt. Remember in 2012 when they declared Romney the winner, robbing Santorum of a needed early win? Until a month later when, oopsies!, turned out Santorum had won after all. At that point, Romney was well on his way to victory and the Iowa votes didn’t matter.

    So, it would not surprise me if Trump lost due to Cruz’s better ground game or the poll counters having a thumb on the scale for Rubio. Get the popcorn ready if that happens!

  25. just nutha says:

    @Grumpy Realist: If the city had simply let the market provide water for those who could afford it, there wouldn’t be any lead in the water. Haven’t you been paying attention?

  26. CSK says:

    @Jen:

    I noticed that Kasich has also picked up the endorsements of the Concord Monitor, Foster’s Daily Democrat, and the Portsmouth Herald. Do those endorsements carry a lot of clout?

    I was in Salem a week or so ago, and saw a number of Trump signs. None for any other candidate, or none that I noticed.

    It would be hilarious if Rubio won Iowa and Kasich won New Hampshire. Would Trump go completely insane and start calling all Iowans and New Hampshirites losers and morons?

  27. Rafer Janders says:

    @ElizaJane:

    And while you could certainly argue that Sanders’ actual positions are in line with what many Americans want, the Republican campaign against him would be brutal.

    So what? The Republican campaign against ANY Democratic candidate would be brutal. What’ll they do, call Sanders a socialist? They already did that to Obama, a relatively moderate middle of the road Democrat, and lost to him twice.

  28. Rafer Janders says:

    @Moosebreath:

    Much of their playbook against Kerry or Obama can be reused (he’s a socialist, he’d raise taxes, etc.), and this time they’d actually be correct.

    So the same losing playbook that Obama beat twice? (And, yes, Kerry lost, but that was twelve years ago. It’s a different time now. 2004 was the only time Republicans have won the popular vote in the last six presidential elections).

  29. Jen says:

    @CSK: I’m not sure if I’d use the word “clout”–what the endorsements appear to be doing is getting more people to show up at his events, which does seem to be having an effect. Kasich managed to fill a room and get local media to an event outside of Manchester on Sunday afternoon–which is remarkable given the fact that the Patriots were playing in the AFC Championships. (He did keep the event short, which was smart.)

    I’m not sure if Kasich will win NH–Trump still has way more yard signs, bumper stickers, etc. The only caveat there is that if there’s a sense that Trump will walk away with it, his supporters might skip voting. I’ve noted before that there just doesn’t seem to be much of a ground game for Trump in place, which is curious given the fact that his campaign manager is from NH and knows the state.

    I don’t think that there are many “new to the process” voters here. NH has a fairly steady voter turnout for its primaries (around 30% of registered voters). I just checked the long-range forecast, and it shows 50% chance of snow showers. If that doesn’t change that could have an impact, albeit a small one.

    Honestly, I can hardly wait. We’ve all but stopped answering our phone because of all of the surveys/calls.

  30. Mu says:

    The only thing that worries me is that Trump gets the nomination (yea, guaranteed D win) and Hillary gets indicted after something breaks that even the White House can’t suppress. BTW does anybody knows what happens when a candidate has to drop out after the convention? Does the VP candidate get the slot automatically?

  31. Ron Beasley says:

    @Mu: @Mu: @Mu: Good question – I think that would be new territory.

  32. Ron Beasley says:

    @Mu: @Mu: @Mu: Good question – I think that would be new territory.

  33. CSK says:

    @Jen:

    Thank you. That was very interesting and helpful. It’s good to get a report from someone right on the ground.

    You mention that there aren’t many “new to the process” NH primary voters. I read an article last week–it may have been here–about Trump having the support of first-time voters (this was in the south and southwest). What was riveting was that these people ranged in age from about 55-75, and each one claimed that he or she had never before voted in any election, including presidential. But they were planning to vote for Trump. I have some doubt that these people will manage to get off their couches long enough to do so, but I’m having a hard time grappling with the notion that you could get to be 75 (or even 55) and never have voted before.

  34. charon says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    When you are explaining, you are losing.

    Obama never needed to explain calling himself a socialist.

  35. CSK says:

    @Mu:

    @Ron Beasley:

    The Chair of the Democratic National Party would call a meeting, and the members of the committee would vote on a replacement.

  36. Moosebreath says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    “So the same losing playbook that Obama beat twice?”

    As pointed out already, with Sanders, it’s actually true. Not so, with Obama and by 2012, Obama had an actual record of governing to point at to show how false this was.

    And of course, 2008 was in the middle of the worst economic times since the Great Depression and in the shadow of a disaster of a war of choice, making it an easy win for the Democrats.

  37. C. Clavin says:

    Jerry Falwell’s kid has just endorsed Trump.
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2016/01/26/evangelical-leader-jerry-falwell-jr-endorses-trump/
    Donald f’ing Trump…a man who embodies everything Christ was against. In the dictionary next to the word “avarice” is a picture of the orange-faced comb-over king. He is an symbol for the seven sins; pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth.
    I don’t believe in the supernatural but you could make the argument Trump is an anti-christ, he is so diametrically opposed to the teachings of Jesus.
    And yet here is Falwell endorsing him. Endorsing a man who is on his third marriage and who openly discusses his lust for his own daughter.
    If this turn of events doesn’t convince you that religion is nothing but a long-scam…then you are incapable of independent thought. And if you are stupid enough to support the party that supports both of these charlatans…then I feel sorry for you and your ignorance.

  38. Dave D says:

    @Jen: The Register is a paper I read daily but no one I know on the Left or the Right has any love for their editorial board. Their entire letters to the Editor section is usually just one complaint after another from both sides about whatever slant is presented in one of their articles. I have never seen such a constant string of complaints day in and day out. In their quest for “balance” they tend to allow a lot of editorials to be published by a lot of very biased people instead of reporting on the issue themselves. It has really been bad the past year between the Bakken Pipeline issues and the City of Des Moines suing the upstream counties of water issues. There are often editorials from each side published side by side and seems to have alienated a lot of readers on both sides of the aisle. I doubt their Rubio endorsement does anything but push people away in the same way Governor Brandstad’s criticism of Cruz drew more votes his way. I honestly think Evangelicals here hate the establishment “RINO’s” more than the Dems right now.

  39. Jen says:

    @Dave D: That’s interesting and doesn’t surprise me. My point with the Rubio comment was simply that he’s not getting any attention here in NH. It’s almost weird how silent his campaign is.

  40. gVOR08 says:

    A Poly Sci prof at U Mass has a theory to account for Trump. He identifies people who score high for Authoritarian personality as Trump’s base. He says about 49% of Rs, 39% of Independents, and 17% of Ds score as high Authoritarian, so round numbers, 35% of the electorate. He also notes that when they feel threatened, low and mid-A people act high-A. So it’s really not that hard to picture Trump riding this into the White House.

    I’m not sure how much credence psych people give Authoritarianism. IIRC my long ago psych 101, this started as the F-Scale, and was expected to explain why the Germans were prone to Fascism. But it showed no difference between Germans and Americans.

  41. M. Bouffant says:

    @Moosebreath: Yes yes yes. A wall along the Coast Range or the Sierras. Please!!

  42. Dave D says:

    @Jen: A few months ago his SuperPacs were advertising for him for a few weeks and then laid off. I don’t know if it was because they charge them astronomical fees for ads or if his lack of movement in the polls caused his campaign to focus elsewhere. I see more Jeb! and Trump ads than Rubio ads. In fact I think yesterday was the first time seeing one on tv so it seems a late ad buy, but minimal. The evangelicals usually win Iowa so its no surprise the establishment choose to stay away as this state does it’s best to convince the rest of the nation we shouldn’t be important at all. It can only be a matter of time before they take away the first in the nation from us, and hopefully the caucuses go with that loss. I think Rubio and Jeb! are sitting back and focusing on SC and FL.

  43. Andre Kenji says:

    @ElizaJane:

    The Democrats could nominate Sanders, when 59% of Americans say they would never vote for a Socialist for president

    Sanders is not a socialist per se. His proposals are more or less conventional.

  44. CSK says:

    @gVOR08:

    I saw that study. I don’t necessarily disagree with it; in fact, the way Trump supporters tend to refer to him as their “white knight” or even savior would appear to lend it some credibility.

    But here’s the thing: Even if 35% of likely voters–not just the electorate, if you define that as people able to vote–support Trump, and vote for him, that’s not going to get him into the White House.

  45. gVOR08 says:

    @Dave D:

    I don’t know if it was because they charge them astronomical fees for ads

    I keep having this picture of the Roberts Court ruling 5-4 that free speech requires PACs be offered the same low rates as campaigns. Didn’t James Madison himself once say that if the government were offered for sale, it should be at steep discount?

  46. Tyrell says:

    @CSK: That would be some sort of arrangement: like if they give it to Sanders then he has to agree to their choice of his vp. Of course this all would be worked out in secret.
    Look at what happened with Ford: the vice presidency was handed to Nelson Rockefeller.

  47. CSK says:

    @Tyrell:

    It wouldn’t exactly be a secret, if I understand you correctly. Both parties have it in their bylaws that if their candidates dies or withdraws (for whatever reason) , the party chair convenes a meeting and the committee members choose a substitute. From what I understand, it doesn’t have to be the vp candidate on the ticket, although it could be. They could choose Biden on the grounds that he’d have wider appeal than Sanders.

  48. grumpy realist says:

    Rubio comes off like the fresh-faced kid who gets hired because he’s “so promising”….and remains “so promising” for the next five years.

    As Gertrude Stein said about Oakland, “There’s no “there” there.” Ditto for Rubio. If we were comparing the candidates to cheeses, he would be a slice of Velveeta.

  49. CSK says:

    @grumpy realist:

    You could make a good case that Trump resembles a tall shapeless glob of Cheez Whiz.

  50. Grewgills says:

    @Andre Kenji:
    The potential electoral problem isn’t so much his proposals being actually more socialist than the next Dem. The problem, such as it is, is that he has at least several times identified himself as a democratic socialist and a solid majority of Americans don’t know the difference between a European style democratic socialist and a Soviet or Chinese authoritarian socialist. The GOP will mine that ignorance for electoral gain.

  51. charon says:

    @Dave D:

    in the same way Governor Brandstad’s criticism of Cruz drew more votes his way.

    Evidence for this? The polling I have seen shows Trump rising, Cruz fading.

  52. gVOR08 says:

    @Grewgills: I don’t know. Most people have no idea what any flavor of socialist is. Or care. On one hand you’d have the GOPs screaming Commnist! Revolutionary! Leftist! Extremist! And on the other hand you’d have this mild mannered, white haired guy calmly saying perfectly reasonable things. It’s been a long time since the cold war ended.

  53. Mikey says:

    @Grewgills:

    The problem, such as it is, is that he has at least several times identified himself as a democratic socialist and a solid majority of Americans don’t know the difference between a European style democratic socialist and a Soviet or Chinese authoritarian socialist.

    My wife grew up in Germany and to her Sanders sounds pretty much exactly like a run-of-the-mill German politician. There’s really nothing he says that’s anywhere to the left of the rest of the civilized world.

  54. DrDaveT says:

    @Andre Kenji:

    Sanders is not a socialist per se.

    He has called himself a Socialist. The part of the electorate we’re talking about is driven by labels and emotions, not by definitions and reason. To them, calling yourself a Socialist is pretty much like calling yourself a pederast or a kleptomaniac. They don’t know what a Socialist is, but they know it’s bad.

  55. grumpy realist says:

    @CSK: Nah, Trump’s a smelly piece of Limburger.

    Bush is either a piece of Swiss cheese or a can of Kraft Parmesan, Christie is of course a huge squashy mozzarella, and Cruz isn’t even a cheese. He’s what you find on Parisian pavements that you don’t want to step in.

  56. charon says:
  57. Grewgills says:

    @gVOR08:

    Most people have no idea what any flavor of socialist is. Or care.

    True, but to many of them socialist is a bad word. This is evidenced by significantly over half of the electorate saying they wouldn’t vote for a socialist. Bernie has (accurately) labelled himself a democratic socialist. Most Americans will only hear that he labelled himself a socialist and that will be the take away. Maybe the public can be educated on that front, but I have my doubts.

    On one hand you’d have the GOPs screaming Commnist! Revolutionary! Leftist! Extremist! And on the other hand you’d have this mild mannered, white haired guy calmly saying perfectly reasonable things.

    The first part will be true regardless of the Dem candidate. As to the second, there is plenty to mine from Bernie’s speeches that doesn’t look mild mannered and plenty of pics with him looking wild eyed with hair everywhere. It isn’t an accurate representation of Sanders the man or the politician, but it is an easy picture to draw. I think you are assuming that your rational assessment will dominate over the fear mongering and crazy eyed pictures. I wish that were so, but don’t think it is.

    @Mikey:
    He would be a moderate social democrat in most of Europe. Even absent his views on guns he might be slightly center right. His problem is that he has labelled himself a (democratic) socialist and the word socialist is viewed irrationally and negatively by a majority of American voters. It will be a problem for him if he is the nominee. It might not be insurmountable, but it will be a problem.

  58. grumpy realist says:
  59. Scott F. says:

    @Grewgills:

    It will be a problem for him if he is the nominee. It might not be insurmountable, but it will be a problem.

    This is the key. I don’t argue with any of your points, but I think you underestimate the capacity to persuade held by Bernie, plus the rest of the Democratic party should he be the nominee.

    And, of course, Bernie won’t be running against some abstract ideal, but against whoever survives the GOP scrum. It won’t be a walk for either Clinton or Sanders, but I’d argue that each of them is burdened with unique, but equally challenging baggage and each of them will have the better of the argument once they’re face to face with the GOP nominee.

  60. CSK says:

    Well, The Donald has bailed on the Fox debate this Thursday, apparently because Megyn Kelly is going to be a moderator. According to Trump, this is not treating him fairly.

  61. Andre Kenji says:

    @Grewgills: I get it. I´m a foreigner, I know many people that are openly Stalinist, and even for very moderate guy like me Sanders´proposals sounds extremely conventional.

  62. Tillman says:

    @CSK: @grumpy realist: What Trump has done… *kisses fingertips like a chef* Magnifique.

    I must say, I disagree with damn near everything he says, but I remain amazed at his ability to play people. They spin it as him being scared of Megyn Kelly, but then he turns his separate appearance into a charity drive because of “all talk no action” politicians. He would make a far more terrifying tyrant than I gave him credit for.

    You have to praise the gamble alone. If it works, Roger Ailes is going to die of a stroke before the year is out, his entire worldview upended.

  63. An Interested Party says:

    Donald Trump threatening to not show up at next debate unless Megan Kelly is kicked out.

    Humph, I doubt that threat has any merit…Trump is the one person who could get between Chuck Schumer and a TV camera…meanwhile, Cruz and Trump remind me of this scene for the GOP…

  64. Tyrell says:

    @ElizaJane: While many of Sanders ideas sound good, he is not very specific about how all of that gets paid for. The middle class needs a tax cut, not higher taxes. Sanders needs a more agressive foreign policy .