With two primaries and two caucuses behind them, Republican presidential hopefuls still have time to change the trajectory of the nominating race. To win the GOP nod, a candidate will need 1,237 delegates. The current leader has 82.
That said, nearly half of the remaining states will hold a nominating contest over the next 15 days, which may very well position one candidate as the prohibitive frontrunner. And if the new, national CNN poll is in anyway reflective of Republican attitudes, we have a pretty good idea who’s positioned to lead the party’s pack.
1. Donald Trump: 49% (up from 41% in CNN’s poll in January)
2. Marco Rubio: 16% (up from 8%)
3. Ted Cruz: 15% (down from 19%)
4. Ben Carson: 10% (up from 6%)
5. John Kasich: 6% (up from 1%)
Note, this poll was conducted from Wednesday to Saturday, so it includes the days following last week’s debate, which was held on Thursday.
It’s tempting to see this poll as an outlier. After all, this poll not only shows Trump with more support than the rest of the field combined, and not only shows Trump with more than triple Rubio’s national backing, it also has Trump’s support reaching 49% – a level unseen in any national poll conducted this year by anyone, practically mocking the Beltway chatter about the candidate’s “ceiling.”
That doesn’t mean it’s wrong, though it does suggest some caution is in order. That said, if the CNN survey is even close to capturing current Republican attitudes, it would take an awful lot to derail Trump’s candidacy.
Of course, the day before Super Tuesday, national polls offer a sense of broad trends, but it’s still a state-by-state process, and those watching the GOP race closely will be focused tomorrow on the dozen contests that make up the biggest voting day of the year. While not every state has fresh polling, we did receive some interesting data over the weekend:
Georgia (NBC/WSJ/Marist): Trump 30%, Cruz 23%, Rubio 23%, Carson 9%, Kasich 9%Tennessee (NBC/WSJ/Marist): Trump 40%, Rubio Cruz 22%, Rubio 19%, Carson 9%, Kasich 6%Texas (NBC/WSJ/Marist): Cruz 39%, Trump 26%, Rubio 16%, Carson 8%, Kasich 6%Massachusetts (Suffolk): Trump 43%, Rubio 20%, Kasich 17%, Cruz 9%, Carson 4%
Watch this space.