Donald Trump seems set to end 2015 as the dominant force in the race for next year’s Republican nomination for president, with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz now a clear — yet distant — second after a strong debate performance, a new CNN/ORC poll released on Wednesday has found.
Trump tops the field with 39%, according to the poll of Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters. That’s more than double the share backing Cruz, who, at 18%, has inched up 2 points since the last CNN/ORC poll, which was taken in late November.
Trump has been a constant atop the polls since his ascent to the lead in July, and this new poll marks the first time Cruz stands significantly apart from the other candidates vying for the nomination. Behind those two, Ben Carson and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio have each slipped a few points and now stand tied at 10%.
Lots of good news in the poll if you, as I do, loathe a GOP establishment that gave us John McCain and Willard Mitt Romney to sham-oppose Barack Hussein Obama II. As even career Democrat Party waterboy Mark Halperin notes:
Part of why Establishment Rs are in denial re Trump: to paraphrase fabled Pauline Kael line:no one they know is backing Trump
Let’s start with the really good news:
The CNN/ORC poll was conducted after the Republican debate hosted by CNN and Facebook in Las Vegas on December 15. Among those Republicans who say they watched, 33% say Trump did the best job in the debate, 28% Cruz, 13% Rubio. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie follows with 6%. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, widely seen as needing a strong debate performance to boost his standing in the polls, was rated best by just 1% of debate watchers.
No Jeb = the defeat of the GOP’s dynastic golden boy, laid bare as inept a candidate as we’ve seen since Ted Kennedy in his pickled prime. The other good news is the emergence of Ted Cruz as the consensus no-Trump candidate, and the fading of the opportunistic high-school debate champ, Marco Rubio.
Trump’s standing in the race for the nomination is bolstered by widely held trust that he can best handle the top issues facing the nation. Trump holds massive advantages over the rest of the field as the candidate best able to handle the economy (57% Trump, his next closest competitors are Cruz at 8%, Rubio at 7%, Carson at 6% and Bush at 5%), illegal immigration (55% trust Trump, followed by Cruz at 15%, Rubio at 10%), and ISIS (47% prefer Trump, 21% Cruz, 7% Bush and 6% Christie).
And Republicans are coming around to the idea that the Republican Party has its best shot at winning the presidency by nominating the New York real estate mogul. Overall, 46% of GOP voters say the Republicans have a better chance to win in 2016 with Trump as the party’s nominee, while 50% say the GOP has a better shot with someone else at the top of the ticket. In August, just 38% said Trump brought the Republicans their best chances.
Brace yourself for an avalanche of pieces from the wounded Establishment, arrving any minute now…