By most assessments, Donald Trump didn’t fare particularly well in Saturday night’s debate for the remaining Republican presidential candidates. More than a few observers wondered aloud about whether the event would mark a turning point in the race for the GOP nomination: would this be the beginning of the end?
Apparently not. We talked yesterday about the latest Public Policy Polling survey of South Carolina Republicans, conducted after the debate, which showed Trump with a 17-point lead over his next closest rivals. Late yesterday, as Rachel noted on the show, CNN released the results of its latest South Carolina poll, which pointed in a similar direction.
1. Donald Trump: 38%
2. Ted Cruz: 22%
3. Marco Rubio: 14%
4. Jeb Bush: 10%
5. Ben Carson: 6%
6. John Kasich: 4%
Note, this poll, like one from PPP, was conducted after Saturday night’s debate. If South Carolina Republicans were, en masse, outraged by Trump’s criticism of the Bush/Cheney national security record, their opposition is not yet reflected in the survey data.
Of course, three days after the next primary, Nevada Republicans will hold their caucuses, and while polling in Nevada is generally so difficult that most pollster don’t even try, CNN took a shot at it anyway, and released these results this morning:
1. Donald Trump: 45%
2. Marco Rubio: 19%
3. Ted Cruz: 17%
4. Ben Carson: 7%
5. John Kasich: 5%
6. Jeb Bush: 1%
This poll, for what it’s worth, was in the field before and after Saturday night’s debate.
In general, I’d recommend taking Nevada polling with a grain of salt, but it does seem reasonable to think Trump is well positioned to win the caucuses.
As for the national picture, a new Qunnipiac poll, which was also conducted before and after the most recent GOP debate, points to a national Republican landscape shaping up this way:
1. Donald Trump: 39% (up from 31% in early February)
2. Marco Rubio: 19% (unchanged)
3. Ted Cruz: 18% (down from 22%)
4. John Kasich: 6% (up from 3%)
5. Jeb Bush: 4% (up from 3%)
5. Ben Carson: 4% (down from 6%)
In case you were curious, Trump’s 39% showing in this poll – more support than his next two closest competitors combined – is the best any candidate has fared in any national Quinnipiac poll this cycle.
If Saturday night’s debate doomed Trump’s campaign, there’s no evidence of it anywhere.