Trump’s 25% standing reflects a nine-point drop from our last national poll, which was taken the week before Christmas. It reflects an overall decline in Trump’s popularity with GOP voters. Trump’s favorability has dropped a net seventeen points, from a previous +24 standing at 58/34 to now just +7 at 48/41.Trump is particularly starting to struggle on the right - he’s dropped to third place with ‘very conservative’ voters at 19% with Cruz at 34% and Rubio at 22% outpacing him with that group.
Which is what happens when a Democrat mole takes off his mask too soon and starts frantically attacking Ted Cruz in Iowa from the left, using Democrat tactics and rhetoric. Hell, even recovering Trumplicans Mark Levin and Rush Limbaugh noticed it.
He does still lead with moderates and ‘somewhat conservative’ voters to give him the overall advantage.
In other words, Trump is the "establishment"/RINO candidate. Or "Mitt Romney without the manners".
Rubio is the candidate with the real momentum in the race. He’s up eight points from his 13% standing in our poll right before Christmas. Beyond that he’s seen a large spike in his favorability rating- it’s improved a net twenty-eight points from +15 at 49/34 to +43 at 64/21. That ties him with Ben Carson as being the most broadly popular candidate on the Republican side.
Things also bode well for Rubio as the field gets smaller in the coming weeks. In a four candidate field he gets 32% to 31% for Trump, 23% for Cruz, and 8% for Bush. In a three candidate field he gets 34% to 33% for Trump and 25% for Cruz. And in head to heads he leads both Trump (52/40) and Cruz (46/40). As other candidates drop out of the race Rubio is the most likely destination of their supporters. [emphasis added]
Now do you see why Chris Christie's Marco-phobia helps Donald Trump? If the billionaire slumlord is the "establishment" candidate (and he is, as he was boasting just last week), and Senator Cruz is the Tea Party/"True Conservative" candidate (which he is), Rubio is the bridge between them that can bring all Republicans together and unify the party for the general election struggle to come. The sunny, optimistic, Reaganesque hybrid of the two. Or at least the closest thing to it we're going to get. Because, once again, my Tea Party friends, anger does not sell in a general election, while a smile, a laugh, and an eye-twinkle does. It's Marketing 101.
Will this overthrow Trump in New Hampshire? Probably not. Even applying the national post-Iowa polling shifts to the Granite State, the result is still Trump 24%, Rubio 18%, Cruz 15%. But even Trump narrowly surviving in a State where he has such an overpowering "home court advantage," being from next-door New York, New Hampshire being a "blue" State, and his having led so crushingly for all these months only to limp across the finish line will continue the "loser" narrative his "upset" defeat at Senator Cruz's hands in Iowa on Monday started, with territory much more favorable to his two younger opponents looming on the primary calendar.
The intriguing question going forward will be how Trump can possibly reinvent himself in order to regain his "alpha male" manly swagger mojo when he's pretty much been everyone and everything at least once already. It's kind of like the time Daffy Duck finally brought the house down....
....or as Montgomery Scott once said: