If you’re a Trump fan, take heart. This Michigan survey was conducted before last night’s debate, where Carson didn’t perform especially well. And the overnight poll from Gravis was limited to Republicans who watched the debate. It might simply be reflecting momentary “Wow, Carly!” sentiment, something that’ll dim a bit once we’re back to 24/7 Trump coverage on cable news. And Trump fans who missed the debate entirely have no reason to change their vote this morning, so he probably still leads nationally. The big question is by how much.
Even so, if I’m not mistaken, these are the first two polls anywhere since Trumpmania broke big that don’t show him on top.
That’s a poll of the race itself, not a poll asking who won the debate. On that question Fiorina was the clear winner with 33 percent versus 21 percent for Trump and 16 percent for Marco Rubio. Fiorina also did more to help herself last night than any other candidate: When people were asked if their opinion of her was more or less favorable favorable after watching, the split was a phenomenal 78/13. Only Rubio approached those numbers among the rest of the field, splitting 71/19. In fact, every candidate in the field polled either more favorably after the debate or saw no change in their perceptions except two. One was Rand Paul, whom 58 percent viewed less favorably versus just 15 percent more favorably. The other? Donald Trump, who split 33/36. Hmmmm.
Another interesting data point from Gravis is what happens when you poll Ben Carson and Trump head to head.
Which brings us to that pre-debate Michigan poll:
Carson polled at 24 percentage points, narrowly edging out Trump, who garnered support from 22 percent of respondents…
Carson enjoyed a 12-point lead among women voters in the MRG poll, winning support from 28 percent of female respondents, compared to 16 percent for Trump.
“Trump has a major problem with women and it accounts for Carson’s narrow lead among all likely primary voters,” Shields said. “Saying he cherishes women has not made up for his recent comments about Megyn Kelly and Carly Fiorina.”
Another bad result for Trump among Republican women to go with that IJ Review data from this morning, huh? Double hmmmm.
The most amazing data from last night’s debate, though, was the ratings, and of course that’s entirely due to Trump. Previously, the biggest audience for a debate in CNN’s history was 8.3 million viewers for an Obama/Hillary primary showdown held five days after Obama’s big win in South Carolina in 2008. That was right around the time when Hopenchange was beginning to break big and Obama seemed like a legit threat to beat Hillary. The audience for last night’s debate was … 22.9 million, fully six million more than the previous highest-rated broadcast in CNN’s decades on the air. (No wonder they insisted on a third hour.) It may be true that Trump has turned the primaries into a clown show, but it’s a clown show to which everyone is buying tickets. Carly Fiorina, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz will be household names by the time Republicans start voting next year thanks to Trump, a huge boost for the GOP in the general election given Hillary’s universal name recognition. There’s just no way to argue that his effect on the race has been entirely bad.
Exit question: Is Rand Paul done? This is the second debate in a row where his favorable rating took a major dive afterwards. Even Chris Christie, whose unpopularity with Republicans shows up in poll after poll, helped himself last night. If the Ron Paul revolution isn’t going to show up for Rand, what’s the point of continuing?