How does the South Carolina GOP race stand after the wild debate on Saturday night? Two polls paint contrasting pictures.
A poll commissioned by the South Carolina GOP House Caucus paints a bleak picture, as far as I’m concerned. It has Donald Trump way ahead at 33 percent. He is followed by a tight pack consisting of Ted Cruz (14 percent); Maraco Rubio (also at 14); Jeb Bush (13); and John Kasich (10).
In other words, it’s New Hampshire all over again. Trump more than doubles his closest competitor and four other candidates do well enough in relation to each other to stay in the race. There is no meaningful winnowing of the field.
This poll virtually mirrors a poll taken just before the debate by ARG. Everyone’s numbers are basically the same in the two surveys except that Bush and Kasich swap theirs. So according to this survey, the debate had virtually no effect on the race.
But a PPP poll suggests otherwise. Trump still holds a commanding lead with at 35 percent. However, Cruz and Rubio are well ahead of the chasing pack; both are at 18 percent. They are followed by Kasich (10 percent) and Bush (7 percent).
In this scenario, or anything like it, Bush probably drops out of the race. Kasich probably stays in, heartened by a decent showing in a state as conservative as South Carolina. Ben Carson, who is at around 6 percent in both polls, either drops out or sinks further into irrelevance.
Note, however, that both of these polls were taken before George W. Bush came to South Carolina to campaign for Jeb. If W’s appearance helps his brother appreciably, Jeb might well move into second place, if one credits the SC GOP House Caucus poll. If, instead, one credits PPP, Jeb might still do well enough to stay in the race.
Anyway you look at it, Trump does not appear to be faltering. Unless one is fine with him as the GOP standard bearer, one should be rooting for the field promptly to shrink.
UPDATE: A CNN poll shows Trump at 38 percent, Cruz at 22, Rubio at 14, and Bush at 10. However, most of the responses to this survey occurred before the debate. After the debate, Trump was at 30 percent, but the sample size is quite small (indeed, for the entire survey, the sample was only 404).
On the Democratic side, Clinton leads Sanders 56-38, according to this poll. The sample size is even smaller (280). For both parties, CNN polled “likely voters.”