Kind of like the Seattle Seahawks: The Texas senator is getting hot at the right time, coming down the home stretch, in December, with the "playoffs" fast approaching:
With just six weeks left until the Iowa Caucuses open in February, Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz remain in a virtual tie for the GOP nomination, but Trump trails both Democrat candidates Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders when it comes to general election matchups, according a new Quinnipiac University Poll.
Among Republican or Republican-leaning voters:
Senator Marco Rubio 12%;
Ben Carson 10%;
Governor Chris Christie 6%;
Jeb Bush 4%;
Senator Rand Paul, Carly Fiorina 2% each;
Governor John Kasich, Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee 1% each.
The latest poll shows a five-point drop for Rubio since Quinnipiac's November poll. Carson is six points down from November. However, Christie's numbers are up, and the the remainder are at about the same levels.
Carson passed up Trump this fall primarily because of the "nice guy" and "outsider" factors. Which is to say, Trump is a jerk and the GOP electorate hadn't yet begun the process of getting serious about choosing a nominee. Carson has fallen out of the running because "niceness" is not seen as a congruent trait with "toughness," the latter of which rose dramatically in value after ISIS's attacks in Paris and San Bernardino. That's not the same thing as saying that a leader cannot be "nice" and "tough" at the same time; it is to say that Dr. C has never had the chance to demonstrate "toughness" any more than The Donald has ever demonstrated the capability of not being a jerk. And no, vowing to "bomb the shit out of ISIS" does not qualify as "toughness," but Trumplicans want to believe that it does, thus falling prey to the same fallacy as liberals that words carry weight in and of themselves apart from the actions without which they are useless noise.
What Senator Cruz brings to the table is toughness as well as the public policy gravitas that Gentle Ben lacks. And while the former is a jerk at times, he's beginning to show off his "nice" side as well, and that's having the desired effect on his likability numbers, which are now above-water (35/33 overall and 34/28 among independents).
Perhaps the GOP electorate is at last becoming serious about next year's election.
And not a moment too soon:
[Mrs.] Clinton over Trump 47% – 40%;
[Mrs.] Clinton over Marco Rubio, 44%-43%;
[Mrs.] Clinton tied with Cruz, 44%-44%.
Bernie Sanders over Trump, 51%-38%;
Rubio over Sanders, 45%-42%;
Cruz over Sanders, 44%-43%.
Meaningless numbers in and of themselves, but useful for comparative purposes. And the comparison in this case is that Trump runs anywhere from seven to sixteen points worse in general election matchups than do his two top-tier rivals. A firmly established trend driven by the same firmly established dynamics:
[Mrs.] Clinton has the right kind of experience to be president, American voters say 63% – 35%, while Trump does not have the experience, voters say 67% – 29%.
So even though Her Nib has zero accomplishments for the quarter-century she's spent in D.C., just being in D.C. for a quarter century counts for more than the naif who has the same dearth of accomplishments but has never run for or held any elective office.
So much for the "outsider" factor.
But [Mrs.] Clinton and Trump are close on several key qualities. American voters say:
59% – 35% that [Mrs.] Clinton is not honest and trustworthy;
58% – 40% that she has strong leadership qualities;
50% – 46% that she does not care about their needs and problems;
55% – 42% that she does not share their values.
Looking at Trump, voters say:
58% – 36% that he is not honest and trustworthy;
58% – 39% that he has strong leadership qualities;
57% – 38% that he does not care about their needs and problems;
61% – 34% that he does not share their values.
1) Respondents don't have the foggiest clue of what constitutes "strong leadership qualities" if they don't include honesty and trustworthiness in its definition;
2) Hillary's "key qualities" numbers are woefully worse than Cruz's and Rubio's, but markedly superior to those of Trump.
And yet Trump has been leading or close to the top of the GOP presidential race for the past six months. Almost as if a large number of Republicans don't really want to win but prefer to stay on the outside looking in, in the political wilderness, bitching and moaning and polishing their "purity" halos instead of engaging in the "dirty" give & take, compromise-sodden political process they disdain to get their candidates into office to pursue the Cause they claim to believe in - or have up until now.
Hopefully, that phase of the 2016 campaign is finally drawing to a close.
And not a moment too soon.