Whatever happened to that deep Republican bench?

Fox News offers a new poll of the Republican presidential field (scroll past the Pope Francis stuff to get to the GOP race). The poll shows Donald Trump still in front with 26 percent support. He’s followed by Ben Carson at 18 percent. Then come Carly Fiorina and Marco Rubio at 9 percent; Ted Cruz at 8; and Jeb Bush at 7.

This poll is more favorable to Dr. Carson and less favorable to Fiorina than the CNN poll I discussed here. But overall the results are similar. They show Fiorina and Rubio moving up. And the top six is the same in both polls.

I continue to believe that the Republican nominee will be one of the six. Talk all you want about John McCain and 2007 — I don’t recall his situation ever being as dire as that of Chris Christie, who is currently in seventh place with 5 percent support. (Rick Santorum’s was more dire in 2011, but he wasn’t nominated.)

Unfortunately, it’s difficult for me to get enthusiastic about any of the GOP six (what ever became of the GOP’s deep bench?). I’ve discussed my dislike of Trump, for reasons of ideology and temperament, frequently — maybe too frequently.

I like Dr. Carson. However, he has never held elective office, never (to my knowledge) run a large organization, and never demonstrated anything approaching mastery of the major issues.

I also like Jeb Bush. But I dislike his approach to the vital issue of immigration and believe he would be difficult to elect.

I like Marco Rubio more than I like Bush and consider him quite electable. However, he’s been even worse than Bush on immigration. Should the GOP nominate a presidential candidate who was rolled by Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin?

Ted Cruz came to Washington determined to move immediately to the head of the class by never being outflanked to the right. As I see it, this opportunistic determination led, among other things, to his decision to “stand with Rand” in a filibuster against the non-existent threat of American citizens being attacked in the U.S. by drones and to his contribution to a partial government shut-down.

These moves helped Cruz achieve his short-term political aim, but in my opinion they showed poor judgment as a U.S. Senator. In any event, the manifestations of Cruz’s determination not to be outflanked to the right, coupled with a style many find grating, will make him difficult to elect.

This leaves Fiorina. Like Trump and Carson she has never held political office (though not, in her case, for lack of trying). Unlike Carson, however, she has run large organizations. And unlike both Trump and Carson, she displays a respectable command of the issues.

But Fiorina has received little scrutiny, both with respect to her time as a CEO and her past policy positions. Frankly, I’m more interested in the latter. It matters little to me whether acquiring Compaq was a good move for Hewlett-Packard (my sense is that Fiorina was in a no-win position at HP). It matters much more whether she has been a consistent, full-spectrum conservative throughout the past 10 or 15 years.

We’ll soon find out. If she withstands scrutiny and seems electable, I’ll probably support Fiorina. If not, I’ll have to choose among Rubio, Bush, and Cruz.