In an election year, Labor Day has historically marked a key turning point: once the early September holiday has come and gone, voters get more engaged and the race enters the home stretch.
The same cannot be said of 2015 -- Election Day is still 426 days away -- though for many presidential candidates, there's nevertheless a hope that this year's Labor Day marks a turning point of its own. Campaign politics over the summer months were often ridiculous, and as Chris Christie told MSNBC this morning, the national races can now really begin in earnest.
So where do things stand? Let's take a look at the latest NBC News/Marist poll, released over the weekend, starting with the race for the Republicans' presidential nomination.
1. Donald Trump: 29% (up 12 points since July)
2. Ben Carson: 22% (up 14 points)
3. Jeb Bush: 6% (down 6 points)
4. Carly Fiorina: 5% (up 4 points)
4. Rand Paul: 5% (no change)
4. Scott Walker: 5% (down 14 points)
Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Bobby Jindal are tied for seventh place with 4% each.
In New Hampshire:
1. Donald Trump: 28% (up 7 points since July)
2. John Kasich: 12% (up five points)
3. Ben Carson: 11% (up five points)
4. Jeb Bush: 8% (down six points)
5. Carly Fiorina: 6% (up four points)
Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Chris Christie are tied for sixth with 5% each. Scott Walker is running ninth in the Granite State with just 4%. Marco Rubio is tenth with 3%.
Taken together, it seems clear, at least for now, that Republican voters in the early nominating states prefer presidential candidates who have literally no background in public service or elected office. If you're a Republican insider who was comfortable with the GOP's ostensible top tier -- Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and Marco Rubio -- you're probably sweating quite a bit while reading these results.
The same poll surveyed Democrats:
1. Hillary Clinton: 48% (down 7 points since July)
2. Bernie Sanders: 37% (up 11 points)
3. Martin O'Malley: 4% (no change)
If Vice President Biden enters the race, the poll found he would have 20% support among Iowa Democrats.
In New Hampshire:
1. Bernie Sanders: 49% (up 15 points since July)
2. Hillary Clinton: 38% (down 8 points)
3. Jim Webb: 2% (up one point)
If Biden enters the race, the poll found he would have 16% support among Granite State Democrats.
Finally, late last week, a new Monmouth poll surveyed Republicans at the national level, and found Trump up to 30% in the multi-candidate field, followed by Carson's 18%. Bush and Cruz were tied for third with 8%, followed by Rubio in fifth at 5%.
Walker was eighth in the poll with just 3%.