Thanks goodness the poll drought of SC is over. I knew I was in withdrawal when I started physically shaking yesterday, but I didn’t realize how bad the problem was until I started seriously considering blogging a national poll this morning — after individual states had started voting! — just to get my fix. This is what addiction looks like.
If you’re curious about Opinion Savvy, their final poll of Iowa had Trump at 20, Cruz at 19, and Rubio at 19. They caught Rubio’s surge in other words, but missed his actual take of the vote by five points and Cruz’s take by eight. But then, even an eight-point miss on this new survey of South Carolina would still leave Trump winning the state. That’s how big his lead is.
Trump leads among those describing themselves as “very conservative,” “somewhat conservative,” “moderate” and “somewhat liberal.” John Kasich leads among the few South Carolina GOP voters who describe themselves as “very liberal.”
Nearly 60% of the voters in the GOP primary identify themselves as “evangelical” in the poll. But even among these evangelical voters, Trump leads Cruz by ten points. Of course South Carolina primaries can be very volatile and turnout can greatly impact the final numbers. But it appears Trump has consolidated and expanded upon his lead in South Carolina after New Hampshire in this poll. This is notable given that recent Opinion Savvy surveys of this race in South Carolina have shown Trump in a closer race there than most other surveys.
Per the crosstabs, Trump and Cruz are basically tied among “very conservative” voters but Trump obliterates him among every group further to the left of that. Needless to say, if Cruz can’t pile up a lead among evangelicals and the most conservative voters, we’re looking at a blowout next Saturday. Meanwhile, look at how badly Bush and Kasich are hurting Rubio here. He’s in contention for second place and they’ve got 20 percent(!) of the vote between them, presumably most of which would move to Rubio as a second choice if they weren’t in play. If you’re wondering why Cruz is still attacking Rubio in SC, a la that “therapy group” ad that got pulled last night because one of the actors had done softcore porn, these numbers would explain why. If Cruz really is staring at a distant second in South Carolina then he has a lot more to worry about from Rubio catching him than from Trump winning. Cruz can survive losing here, although a landslide would damage his strategy of cleaning up in the SEC states. Finishing third behind Rubio would be devastating, though. You’ll know Trump is walking away with this race and Rubio is in striking distance of Cruz by who Cruz ends up targeting in his ads next week.
Oh, all right. Let’s blog the national poll too. New from Morning Consult:
Those are registered, not likely, voters, but if you’re looking for evidence that Trump’s big win in New Hampshire is building momentum for him in other states, here’s some. The fact that he’s blasted through 40 percent, even temporarily, also seems significant in that the mid- to high 30s have been his ceiling in most national polls until now. In fact, not only is 44 percent his best take ever in a national poll, it’s only the third time he’s cracked the 40-point ceiling. He reached 41 percent a few weeks ago in a CNN survey and 41 again in a Monmouth survey in early December. (Both also polls of registered voters, it should be noted.) The idea that the field will winnow and the anti-Trump faction will carry someone else to victory continues to seem plausible-ish to lots of righty commentators, but I wonder how many Republicans out there who like Trump and know him much better than the other candidates by dint of his celebrity are newly open to him as nominee now that he’s scored a major win (and may be on the brink of another). One of the key “arguments” against Trump for some undecideds, I think, is “c’mon, we’re not gonna nominate Trump.” The weaker that argument seems, the more undecideds it may shake loose.