New Polls: With Carson Collapsing, Will These Two Candidates Capitalize?

Dr. Ben Carson (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)
Dr. Ben Carson (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Maggie reported yesterday on a potential shake up in the Iowa race, and a new Quinnipiac poll released today confirms that finding: Ted Cruz has replaced Ben Carson as the most serious competitor to Donald Trump in Iowa.

Quinnipiac shows Trump holding a slim two-point lead over Cruz, 25 percent to 23 percent.  Carson has fallen to third with 18 percent, while Marco Rubio comes in fourth with 13 percent.  No other candidate received more than 5 percent support.

The defection of Carson supporters to Cruz could be a result of increasingly negative media attention garnered by Carson and a newfound focus on foreign policy after the Paris terror attacks, though interestingly, Carson’s favorability numbers still look as good as ever, at least in Iowa:

  • Ben Carson: +64, 6% unsure
  • Ted Cruz: +58, 12% unsure
  • Marco Rubio: +52, 10% unsure
  • Carly Fiorina: +41, 19% unsure
  • Mike Huckabee: +33, 10% unsure
  • Donald Trump: +25, 4% unsure
  • Rick Santorum: +19, 17% unsure
  • Chris Christie: +5, 13% unsure
  • Rand Paul: -3, 12% unsure
  • Jeb Bush: -14, 7% unsure
  • John Kasich: -17, 37% unsure
  • Lindsey Graham: -25, 33% unsure
  • George Pataki: -31, 58% unsure

However, it is also striking how high Marco Rubio’s favorability is among likely caucus-goers, especially among self-described Tea Partiers (+38) and the very conservative (+60).  While Rubio has almost completely usurped Jeb Bush as the “establishment” candidate and has taken some flak from other candidates for being too moderate on issues such as immigration, this has not hurt him nearly as much among the base in Iowa as one might expect.  Although it’s still difficult to see Rubio pulling out a win in Iowa at this stage, it can’t be completely ruled out either.

One state where a Rubio victory is looking even more likely, however, is in New Hampshire.  Two recently released New Hampshire polls, from CBS and Suffolk University, show Rubio moving into second place, though he still trails Trump significantly in both (by 19 points and 11 points, respectively).  Nevertheless, Rubio’s strong favorability numbers in the Suffolk poll suggest he is in good shape in the Granite State with a little over two months until the primary:

  • Marco Rubio: +42, 12% unsure
  • Ben Carson: +28, 11% unsure
  • Ted Cruz: +27, 15% unsure
  • Carly Fiorina: +26, 13% unsure
  • Chris Christie: +17, 14% unsure
  • Jeb Bush: +11, 9% unsure
  • John Kasich: +10, 19% unsure
  • Donald Trump: +7, 10% unsure

It is quite surprising to see Trump leading the polls with the lowest favorability numbers of any of the major candidates, though this cycle has consistently defied expectations.  Nevertheless, with the primaries quickly approaching, it would not be shocking to see further support coalesce around Rubio as long as he can maintain his momentum.

With Cruz now surging in Iowa and Rubio looking strong in New Hampshire, we may be seeing the two candidates emerging who will ultimately overcome Trump’s static support and then battle it out for the nomination.  Stay tuned.

Paul Dupont is the managing editor for ThePulse2016.com.