Did the surprising results of the Iowa caucus change the calculus in New Hampshire? A new release from the tracking poll by the University of Massachusetts-Lowell shows Donald Trump still dominating with 38% of the vote, but the runners-up starting to put some distance between themselves and the rest of the pack. At least for now, the race may shape up to be the same three-person finish as in Iowa, but in a different order:
Donald Trump continues to lead the Republican field by a wide margin even after a second-place finish in Iowa on Monday night. Trump’s lead over his nearest rival is 24 points and he is steady with the support of 38 percent of likely Republican primary voters polled. Ted Cruz is in second place at 14 percent (no change over yesterday) and Marco Rubio is in third at 12 percent (up 2 percent). Jeb Bush held his 9 percent support, followed by John Kasich at 7 percent (down 2 percent) and Chris Christie at 6 percent (up 1 percent). Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina are tied at 3 percent of support and Rand Paul is at 2 percent.
It might help to take a peek under the hood on this tracking poll:
At least so far, Trump’s not paying a price for his unexpected loss in Iowa. The tracking data shows no change at all in Trump’s support, which is rock-solid at 38% all three days. That’s slightly to the high end of Trump’s support in other polling, but not far off from it, according to the RCP list. Almost every poll in the last three months (save for ARG’s two surveys) have put Trump’s lead in double digits, so the gaps match up pretty well to other polling as well.
Other changes within the tracking poll are more subtle. Ted Cruz gained two points to move from 12% to 14%, but Marco Rubio has increased his support by half since Monday, 8% to 12%. He’s on top of the Kasich-Bush-Christie trio of governors who have put all of their electoral eggs in the Granite State basket. If that trend line continues, Rubio could top Cruz in New Hampshire and complete the second leg of his presumed 3-2-1 strategy to build enough momentum to win in South Carolina and seize control of the race. But given the very large gap between 1st and 2nd place in most NH polling — about 20 points or so — a distant second might not change the race in South Carolina much.
There’s another good trend for Rubio, though, and that is that his support is firming up — but so is Jeb Bush’s:
This is more like relatively good news. It’s better than where Rubio started the week, improving by double digits, but Trump and Cruz supporters are still more sure of their vote, and so are Kasich’s voters. Bush voters are as sure as Rubio voters. By the end of the week, Rubio had better see significant improvement in both categories, because New Hampshire primaries are traditionally driven by late deciders:
% of NH Primary Voters that decided in final week (via previous exit polls)
— Adrian Gray (@adrian_gray) February 2, 2016
There are a couple of data points to watch in the crosstabs. One, Trump has a significant gender gap, with 43% of men supporting him but only 32% of women — still enough to lead among both, of course. Rubio does better with women than anyone but Trump at 16%, but only gets 9% of men. Trump’s support is roughly equal between independents and Republicans, and also between self-identified moderates and conservatives. Cruz only gets 5% of the moderate vote but 20% of conservatives, while Rubio gets 11% and 14%, respectively.
Over on the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders is clobbering Hillary Clinton 63/30 among likely voters, with most of those voters claiming little chance of changing their minds. Don’t expect a lot of mystery next Tuesday on that side of the aisle.