In July, it was fairly common to hear the Republican establishment and much of the media see Donald Trump atop 2016 GOP polling and ask, "Sure he's leading now, but can he sustain this advantage into August?" And then in August, they'd ask, "Sure he's leading now, but can he sustain this advantage into September?" And then in September, they'd ask, "Sure he's leading now, but can he sustain this advantage into October?"
It's October. Here are the latest national results from the Pew Research Center.
1. Donald Trump: 25%
2. Ben Carson: 16%
3. Carly Fiorina: 8%
3. Marco Rubio: 8%
5. Ted Cruz: 6%
6. Jeb Bush: 4%
7. Mike Huckabee: 2%
7. Rand Paul: 2%
The remaining candidates are at 1% or below in the Pew findings. (Note, this is the first survey of the cycle from the Pew Research Center, so I didn't include figures as to whether the candidates' support was increasing or decreasing.)
In addition to Trump's role as the frontrunner -- a role he hasn't relinquished since surging to the top in the early summer -- pay particular attention to Jeb Bush's surprisingly poor showing. It may be an outlier, but if the Florida Republican's national backing has dropped to just 4% -- a number, ironically, Bush has placed great significance in -- it suggests his standing may be reaching the point of no return.
Indeed, though John McCain and Mitt Romney hit rough patches before securing their party's nomination in 2008 and 2012, respectively, neither one ever came close to a 4% floor.
And while national results like these will give much of the GOP establishment heart palpitations, the news is no better at the state level.
Here, for example, are the results of the new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll of Iowa Republicans:
1. Donald Trump: 24% (down five points from September)
2. Ben Carson: 19% (down three points)
3. Carly Fiorina: 8% (up three points)
4. Jeb Bush: 7% (up one point)
5. Ted Cruz: 6% (up two points)
5. Marco Rubio: 6% (up two points)
5. Bobby Jindal: 6% (up two points)
8. Mike Huckabee: 5% (up two points)
9. Rand Paul: 4% (down one point)
9. Chris Christie: 4% (up two points)
11. John Kasich: 3% (up one point)
Jindal, oddly enough, is now faring better in Iowa than he is in his home state of Louisiana -- though I suppose that's not saying much.
Meanwhile, NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist also polled New Hampshire Republicans:
1. Donald Trump: 21% (down seven points from September)
2. Carly Fiorina: 16% (up 10 points)
3. Jeb Bush: 11% (up three points)
4. Marco Rubio: 10% (up seven points)
4. Ben Carson: 10% (down one point)
6. Chris Christie: 7% (up two points)
7. Ted Cruz: 6% (up one point)
7. John Kasich: 6% (down six points)
9. Rand Paul: 5% (no change)
Kasich, in particular, has focused heavily on the Granite State, though if this poll is accurate, his support has faltered of late, slipping from double-digit backing a month ago.
As for the top slot, it appears Trump has gone from dominating the race for the GOP nomination to merely leading it. No candidate is ever pleased when his or her support slips, but the New York developer and his followers can't complain too much about results like these.
The Republican establishment figures who've been anxiously awaiting Trump's seemingly inevitable collapse will have to wait a bit longer.