With each passing poll, the Republican Party's nervous establishment quietly mutters to itself, "Maybe the next one will be different." The new national Quinnipiac poll is, in fact, different -- just not in a way that GOP leaders wanted to see.
1. Donald Trump: 28% (up from 27% in a Quinnipiac poll a month ago)
2. Ted Cruz: 24% (up from 16%)
3. Marco Rubio: 12% (down from 17%)
4. Ben Carson: 10% (down from 16%)
5. Chris Christie: 6% (up from 2%)
Cruz, who's obviously the big mover in these results, is buoyed by very strong backing from self-identified Tea Party voters and white evangelical Christians, who've moved quickly from Carson to the Texas Republican.
It's worth emphasizing that Trump's 28% support -- the best performance of any Republican in any Quinnipiac poll so far this year -- is a bit of an outlier. Over the last two weeks, most national surveys have shown the New York developer with support at or near 40%. What's more, most of the recent data shows Trump leading Cruz by a two-to-one margin, while these new results show them neck-and-neck.
An outlier or a sign of things to come? We'll find out soon enough.
Also note Christie's jump to fifth place, feeding the perception that the scandal-plagued New Jersey governor may be taking Jeb Bush's place as the go-to candidate for the establishment/moderate wing of the GOP.
And then, of course, there's Rubio, who saw his support fall in the latest Fox News poll and this new Quinnipiac survey. If recent history is any guide, this will likely lead to a new round of commentary about how the Florida senator is well positioned to win anyway.
As for the establishment vs. the insurgents, let's pause to appreciate the fact that Trump, Cruz, and Carson combine in this poll for 62% of the Republican vote. Rubio, Christie, Bush, and John Kasich combine for 23%.
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