A little something to put Trump fans in a good mood this weekend, especially after that Gravis poll yesterday showing Fiorina and Trump now tied at 22 percent among debate-watching. Morning Consult, which was also quick out of the gate with a poll after the first debate, found nothing of the sort. Carly did win the debate among Republicans who sat through it, according to MC — 29 percent said so versus 24 percent who said Trump did — but in terms of whom those Republicans prefer for president, it’s no contest.
Thirty-six percent of registered voters who watched the debate said they would choose Trump, compared with 12 percent for Carson and 10 percent for Fiorina. Rubio placed fourth, at 9 percent, followed by 7 percent for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and 6 percent for Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R).
But Fiorina’s upside potential is growing. Nineteen percent of voters said the businesswoman would be their second choice, followed by 15 percent who said Carson was their backup, 12 percent who chose Trump and 10 percent who chose Bush.
Fiorina’s favorable ratings have jumped in recent weeks. Among self-identified Republican voters, 56 percent said they had a favorable opinion of Fiorina, up from 37 percent who said they had a favorable opinion of Fiorina in a Morning Consult poll conducted just before the debate.
If you’re a Trump-hater looking for a reason to question these results, you can find comfort in the fact that Morning Consult tends to run hot for Trump. They’ve had him leading the race by anywhere from 20 to 28 points at various moments over the last six weeks; no major pollster tracked by RCP has found him leading by more than 16 points and the last one conducted before the debate had him up over Carson by just four. If you’re a Trump fan looking for reasons to accept these results, you can find comfort that MC’s data accurately reflects the wide consensus that Fiorina won the debate. And if these favorable numbers are accurate, Trump’s better positioned for the long haul than everyone thinks:
At 67 percent, he tops even Marco Rubio and trails only Ben Carson. Those numbers might not be an outlier either. YouGov had his favorable rating nationally among Republicans a few days ago at 68/28, almost identical to what Morning Consult found. If the “face-off” with Fiorina hurt him, there’s zero evidence of it here.
Bill Kristol is nervous:
How big a problem is it that the two leading Republican candidates for president [Trump and Carson] aren’t actually qualified to be president?…
[O]ne hopes for the best. But let’s be honest. It’s all a bit worrisome. It was conventional wisdom a year ago that this Republican field of 2016 was going to be infinitely superior to that of 2012, and for that matter to that of 2008. That now seems less certain. Is Jeb Bush really a stronger establishment-type candidate than Mitt Romney? Are the first-term senators as exciting when articulating their visions as one had anticipated? Are the second-term governors as compelling when describing their achievements in office as one had imagined?
And of course everyone agrees it’s too late for someone else to enter the race. We suppose that’s right. Or is it?
Is it? Ace noted yesterday that Dana Perino seemed to hint recently that there’s someone out there (besides Trump) who’s prepared to run as an independent. But who? My thought was it might be someone like Huckabee, who’d feel obliged to give social conservatives a meaningful choice in the general if they’re being asked to decide between hard-left Democrat Hillary and center-left Democrat Trump. But Perino served as Dubya’s press secretary so it’s natural to think that if she’s privy to any political secrets, it probably has to do with the Bushes. Would Jeb, having been defeated by Trump in the primary, dare risk blowing up the party by running as an indie in the general? He’s already said he’ll back Trump if he’s the nominee and it’s hard to imagine a guy who seems not to enjoy campaigning much pressing on into next summer having already lost miserably in the spring. But who knows? Maybe, after all the insults and after watching the Bush-created modern GOP nominate Trump, Jeb would feel duty bound to try to take Trump down in the general by splitting the GOP vote and helping his “sister-in-law” get elected. He’s got the money to run for a long time and he’s got the lawyers to challenge any sore-loser laws that threaten to keep him off the ballot. It could happen.
No, seriously, though, it won’t be Jeb. So who’s Perino talking about?
Update: A pair of Twitter buddies make fair points. One notes that the poll wasn’t exclusively of Republicans but of Republicans and independents who plan to vote in their state’s GOP primary. Maybe that explains the greater support for Trump — a centrist outsider might do unusually well with indies. Another points out that because Trump is such a huge draw for the GOP debates, there may be a disproportionately pro-Trump audience that watches them. That would explain why his lead among debate-watchers is atypically large — although of course it wouldn’t explain why he and Fiorina were tied among the same crowd in yesterday’s Gravis poll.
Update: As George Will would say: Well.
A Voter Gravity poll released Friday shows Fiorina with 22 percent support among Granite State GOP primary voters. She has a 4-point edge over her nearest competitor, bigwig billionaire Donald Trump, who has 18 percent support.
Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson nets 10 percent support, with the poll finding no other Republican White House hopeful cracking double digits in the first-in-the-nation primary state…
The poll was conducted after Fiorina’s strong performance in the second televised GOP presidential debate Wednesday night.
I’m unfamiliar with Voter Gravity but the sample here of 2,839 New Hampshire Republican voters is, to borrow a word from Trump, yuge. The polls next week are going to be interesting.
Update: Ah, maybe this helps explain the Voter Gravity results: “Consistent with our usual targets for polling, everyone in the poll had voted in the last 3 Republican Primary and General Elections in addition to the 2008 and 2012 Presidential Primary.” These are very likely voters, in other words. If you believe that Trumpmania will galvanize many new voters next spring, enticing people to vote in a GOP primary when they haven’t done so before, then this result is understating his support. That’s one of the big questions of the race right now. How many casual voters who like Trump will actually trudge through the cold in February to vote for him?