Are the various Stop Trump movements having any impact? The signs of external pressure don’t seem to be moving his numbers much, but it’s just possible that the tag team strategy of the three other candidates trying to combine forces might work in at least one spot. (Well, that combined with some home turf advantage.) A pair of new polls were released today only a couple of sunrises before the Last Stand for both Marco Rubio and John Kasich. Depending which one you choose to believe, Tuesday may not represent Trump slamming the door closed on the nomination barring a brokered convention.
The first one, from NBC and Marist, has some bad news for Marco Rubio on his home turf. But up in Ohio, Kasich has pulled into a small but outside the margin lead.
In Florida, Trump holds a 2-to-1 advantage among likely GOP voters over Marco Rubio, the state’s U.S. senator, 43 percent to 22 percent. They’re followed by Ted Cruz at 21 percent and John Kasich at 9 percent…
But in Ohio, Kasich, the state’s incumbent governor, holds a six-point lead over Trump, 39 percent to 33 percent – followed by Cruz at 19 percent and Rubio at 6 percent.
The Florida numbers are pretty much where they’ve been for at least the past month, but in the final 48 hours Kasich has opened up an Ohio lead which is at least somewhat above the +2 average he’s been hanging on to for the past two weeks.
From there we can swivel over to the CBS poll which came out at roughly the same time. The news there for anti-Trumpers is a bit more mixed.
Donald Trump keeps his lead in winner-take-all Florida, at 44 percent over Ted Cruz’s 24 percent and Marco Rubio’s 21 percent. In Ohio, Governor John Kasich is tied with Trump 33 percent to 33 percent, in two of the big winner-take-all delegate prizes up on Tuesday.
The CBS poll has been a bit rougher on Kasich so take that as you will. No matter which one you prefer, the Ohio race is still close, but if I have to invoke the dreaded “M” word here, Kasich seems to have the momentum on his home turf. There’s been rather scant polling done on Ohio until recently by the big outfits, so I’m not ready to jump in there and say that there’s a real sign of either Rubio or Cruz voters abandoning ship and going over to the Governor as part of the #NeverTrump effort. Kasich may just have done a better job convincing the home crowd that he’s viable at a contested convention.
The other contest we’re watching is Illinois, sight of the non-blood bath on Friday. These numbers cover too much of a span to see if that’s had much of an effect, but both of them agree that Trump is in the lead with Cruz fighting for second. (CBS has him significantly closer than Marist.) Rubio is nowhere to be seen in either Ohio or Illinois.
Missouri has some fairly fresh numbers out which show Trump holding a still consistent lead of between seven and ten points over Cruz. The only other state up for grabs beyond that is North Carolina, and Trump is threatening to break 50% there. (I’m really not up to date on the Northern Marianas Islands, sorry.)
Frankly, I’m not seeing any news to put me in much better spirits. I’d sort of been hoping that after this Tuesday we might be on the way to having the party finally begin to coalesce around somebody and start building a unified front for the fall, but that’s looking less likely. Assuming Rubio comes out of Florida empty handed we might see him drop out based on some comments he made at a rally this morning, but where does that get us? If Trump sweeps everything, Cruz falls further behind and I remain unconvinced that that a significant majority of Marco’s voters go to him. Making matters worse, if Kasich does win Ohio, he’s probably a far more appealing landing pad for the Rubio voters and we’re still in a three way race. Going back to the Trump sweep scenario, it’s been made pretty clear in the past few days that no efforts at tossing out a life raft on my part (or from anyone else) is going to get the #NeverTrump people to calm down.
I don’t know what the race looks like on Wednesday morning, but I have the feeling we’re still going to be stuck in this rather ugly civil war for a while to come and, yes, it may go all the way to Cleveland. Even if we lose both Rubio and Kasich, Ted Cruz has to actually start winning some states if he wants to build a solid case for having a mandate. And if he doesn’t, I no longer believe that we’ll get a unified front behind Trump. We should all probably start hoping that the Easter Bunny brings Hillary Clinton an indictment or this could go very, very pear shaped.