From the latest YouGov poll:
The changes are as follows:
The net affect since the second GOP debate would appear to have been Senator Rubio picking up Scott Walker's remaining support and taking a bit out of Trump's as well, while the rest of the field is pretty much unchanged. This suggests that the portion of Rubio's gains coming from Trump indicate either that illegal immigration wasn't as important to them as they first thought, or that Trump's overboard rhetoric on the topic has worn them out, or that they're just coming to their senses and are more interested in winning than venting. Whichever it is, and in whatever proportion, it's a profoundly heartening element to see, particularly when combined with Governor Walker's former supporters, who are unlikely to to be immigration squishes.
What may also be happening is that more of the Republican electorate may be coming to their senses about the "citizen/non-politician" notion being the incredibly foolish myth that it has always been, and the consequent ill-advisability of entrusting the most enormously difficult job in the country to somebody utterly and completely unqualified for and incapable of the task.
Not that Rubio, as a freshman senator, would be much more qualified - we don't call him the Republican Obama for nothing, after all - but four years in the Senate is better than....well, nothing.
I can't help wondering how much Trump's minor drop-off has to do with his continuing to spout nonsense like this:
It's almost as if he's grown so contemptuous of his Tea Party suckers that's he's mocking you for your own foolishness. We already know about the "Green Lantern" view of the presidency; now The Donald appears intent on working his way through the entire Justice League, with the Avengers next in the on-deck circle.
On the other hand, he did actually say this yesterday:
If he falls behind in the polls, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump says he'll drop out of the race in deference to the front-runner.
Trump, who continues to lead in every poll of Republican voters to date, made the stunning statement Thursday in an interview on CNBC.
Asked specifically if he'd quit if he could no longer boast he's "leading in every poll," Trump told CNBC: "Well, I'm not a masochist.
"If I fell behind badly, I would certainly get out. I'm in this for the long haul."
Begging the question of the definition of "feel behind badly". If he nosedived to below mid-single-digits, maybe. But as Allahpundit asked this morning, what about a scenario where Rubio and Carson shoot past Trump to the thirty percent level but Trump is still at about fifteen percent? He'd be significantly behind, but he'd still have enough support to play kingmaker and/or otherwise continue to create havoc in the GOP primaries, even maybe even force a brokered convention, where his blackmail leverage over the RNC could still be maximized.
I think Trump is purposefully describing a worst-case scenario that he doesn't believe is possible. But if at any point he does fall way behind and drops out, he'll still run as an independent. Because ego-stroking and power-lusting aside, his core mission is still to keep the White House out of Republican hands thirteen months from now - whatever it takes.
Exit question: If the nod does wind up going to Rubio, anybody want to start taking bets on whom his running mate would be? Would anybody be shocked if it turned out to be Jeb?