After that “terrible” appearance on Saturday Night Live and the awful immigration comments at the debate, Donald Trump was sadly doomed in terms of his election hopes. I know this because I heard it from so many experts inside the beltway. Now the rolling Reuters/Ipsos national presidential poll has confirmed it. The Donald has, for the first time, landed at more than 40% among likely GOP primary voters. (Yahoo News)

After a week in which he hosted Saturday Night Live and stood center-stage at a Republican debate, Donald Trump is surging among Republicans likely to cast votes in the party’s presidential primary.

According to the five-day rolling Reuters/Ipsos presidential poll, Trump has leapt some 17 percentage points among likely Republican voters since Nov. 6, when he was essentially tied with Ben Carson at about 25 percent. Trump now captures 42 percent of those voters while Carson has fallen off slightly.

The likely voter numbers are always more closely watched than registered voters or all adults for obvious reasons, but even in the full pool Trump has moved back into a solid lead. Among all registered Republicans Trump takes 34% to Carson’s 20%. (As a rather pitiful footnote, Jeb Bush is stubbornly hanging on to 4%.) All of this comes with the usual caveat that the individual state numbers still carry a bit more weight, particularly the first fifteen or twenty contests. But even there Trump is in first place in most of them.

There was, however, one interesting statistical blip which popped up earlier this week. In the Lone Star State, Trump has a new challenger who has pulled into a statistical tie, and that someone in question is none other than favored son Ted Cruz. (The Hill)

Cruz and Trump each receive 27 percent support in the University of Texas/Texas Tribune survey released Thursday, followed by Ben Carson at 13 percent.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) follows at 9 percent, while Jeb Bush, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Carly Fiorina each take 4 percent.

Cruz also leads as the second-choice candidate for voters there with 19 percent, while Trump is the second choice for 15 percent. Carson is also the runner-up pick for 19 percent.

Texas goes on March 1st this year, which is still fairly early in the cycle. They pack a whopping 155 delegates on their convention bus, so if Ted Cruz picks up a little more steam and pulls any delegates at all in February, this could give him a leg up. Two problems complicate that task, though. According to the new GOP primary rules, all states going in the first two weeks of March have to assign their delegates proportionally, so there’s no chance for Cruz to suddenly grab 155 seats even if he wins big at home. Also, Texas has an open primary so there’s always the potential for mischief at the polls. But still, that’s a big pie to divide so Cruz could see a nice surge going into the March races.

It’s very possible that Trump may lose a few points in Iowa after his recent rant, not to mention the blistering criticism from the always influential Lindsey Graham. (/sarc) But the past few cycles have shown us that you can take a beating in Iowa and still stay on cruise control if you sweep New Hampshire, South Carolina and most of the SEC southern swing. If the long expected “Trump Meltdown” is coming it had better hurry up. The clock is running down and Trump is looking more and more like the Energizer Bunny.