How much farther can Trump rise? Is 25% his ceiling, or his base?
– Red State
Nevada is a notoriously difficult state to poll and the caucus format could hurt Trump’s turnout.
Yes, Trump leads all the national polls, and he keeps busting through what look like ceilings. But (unlike Dean) he doesn’t lead in Iowa, and his ceiling there looks very stable: He’s been hovering around 25 percent since September, and he’s never broken 30 percent…. There is no credible scenario in which a consistent 30 percent of the vote will deliver the delegates required to be the Republican nominee. So for Trump to lose, he doesn’t actually have to collapse; he just has to fail to expand his support.
– Ross Douthat, New York Times
Yeah, well, that ceiling may have looked very stable, Ross. But looks can be deceiving.
Stopping Trump now looks like a steeper proposition after he trampled Rubio and Cruz on Tuesday, scoring huge wins across nearly every cross-section of the Republican Party. Entrance polls show Trump won moderate voters and very conservative voters by huge margins. He won in rural and urban areas, and among voters with only high school diplomas and those with post-graduate degrees.
Trump even handily bested Cruz among his supposed based of evangelical Christians, and, though the sample was small, topped his two Cuban-American opponents among Hispanic caucus-goers.
Trump reveled in the details. “I love the evangelicals!” he yelled. ““Number one with Hispanics,” he bragged.
And he pointedly called out the home states of his remaining rivals — Texas for Cruz, Florida for Rubio and Ohio for John Kasich — as places he now leads in the polls and will win the coming weeks.
It looks like Cruz is effectively done. He’s a Christian who can’t win evangelicals and a Cuban Spanish-speaker who can’t win Hispanics. And there is no way, none, that all of his support is going to go to Rubio. I wouldn’t be surprised if more than half of it either went to Trump or goes home.
I have no idea why Kasich is still in. And Carson badly misplayed his hand; he should have thrown his support to Trump in return for a Cabinet position before South Carolina. Now Trump doesn’t actually need him, although it would still be wise to reach out to Carson and secure his support just for the optics.