Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Trump's ceiling, Cruz's rise, Rubio's last chance

The postulate that Trump's ceiling of support is somewhere between 35 and 40% has been, and continues to be, borne out by the polling and the results.  The latest:

Donald Trump’s facing a wall within his party, with Republicans who don’t currently support him far more apt to prefer Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio in a two-way race -- or even to favor a contested convention to block Trump’s nomination. 
Trump continues to lead in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll, with 34 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents who are registered to vote saying they’d like to see him win the nomination. But he trails both Cruz and Rubio one-on-one. And preferences for Cruz, Rubio and John Kasich have grown as others have left the race, while Trump’s support has essentially remained unchanged for months.

Lots of in-the-knowers question the premise that Trump has a ceiling, or even whether it matters, but let's look at the numbers ... 

Iowa's caucus results were Cruz 27.6%, Trump 24.3 and Rubio 23.1.  Since that time -- just five weeks ago -- Trump finished first in NH with 35.3%, first in SC with 32.4, first in Nevada with 46.1, first in Alabama with 43.4, second in Alaska behind Cruz, 33.5 to 36.4%, first in Arkansas with 32.8, first in Georgia with 38.8 and in Massachusetts with 49.3, first in Tennessee with 38.9, first in Virginia with 34.7, and first in Vermont with 32.7%.

He lost Texas and Oklahoma to Ted Cruz by 26.7 - 43.8% and 28.3 - 34.4%, respectively, and he lost Minnesota to both Rubio and Cruz, ending third with 21.3%, and Puerto Rico by a mile, 13-71 to Rubio.  These last two represent Trump's low-water marks to date.

Last Saturday he lost Kansas and Maine to Cruz by wide margins, 23.3% to 48.2, and 32.6 to 45.9%, but won Louisiana and Kentucky with 41.4 and 35.9%.

Throwing out the high (Massachusetts) and the low (Puerto Rico) and averaging the remaining produces a 33.46 average percentage (even if averaging percentages is a substandard evaluation method, it tells us something).  The only way we'll know what the ceiling is for Trump is when the Republicans boil it down to two.  Delegate counts are a different story, and Trump leads Cruz by a 384-300 margin, with Rubio well back in third holding 150 delegates and Kasich, lapped a couple of times by the field, at 37.

Michigan and Mississippi both poll strongly for Trump, as does Idaho and Hawaii (no polling there) also voting today.  But the numbers are very consistent: 30% to 40% for Trump and the rest divided among the remaining field.  So there will be louder calls for mano y mano with Cruz tonight, and a week and a day from today, unless Rubio can win Florida in some kind of convincing fashion, and he will be coming from well behind to do so.

The GOP debate just ahead of the Florida primary happens Thursday night in Coral Gables, and Florida's devout Cuban-Republican contingent will be as riveted to the action as any.  Rubio will bear the brunt of the attacks from Trump and Cruz in a somewhat altered dynamic.  There may be some snarking at each other in Spanish (I sure hope so).

It's entirely possible that a week from tomorrow, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton are the last three people standing for the presidency.


Gadfly said...

If Kasich does win Ohio, what's he do after that? (And latest polls show Trump ahead there, but not by much, anyway; pretty much at the margin of error.) There's no "way forward" unless Rubio drops out. If Trump wins Ohio, even if Rubio pulls out Florida, he's still more comfortably in the driver's seat.

And, you've seen the other polling — a lot of people claim they'd want neither Trump NOR Cruz. However, GOP vote turnout is up, and those are the top two candidates, so somebody's lying to pollsters or something.

meme said...

Turnout is up for the Republicans, could be several factors including the number of candidates that were running. Heck it could even be some Democrats voting for Trump, just like Republicans voting for Obama (believe that Obama would be easier to beat).

But anyone how here is a good article on turnout;