First, New York businessman Donald Trump expanded his support from 27% to 36% while physician Ben Carson fell from 22% to 14%. The physician is now in third behind Texas Senator Ted Cruz who
|Texas Senator Ted Cruz|
rose from 4% to 16% since the middle October CNN poll. As a result of the shakeup, Trump expanded his lead from 5% in the earlier CNN poll to 20% in the latest.
All are major developments. But maybe the most significant development of them all is that the anti-establishment GOP vote (Trump, Carson, Cruz, Fiorina and Paul) has expanded to from 62% in the earlier CNN poll to 70% in the most recent one. The anti-establishment mood of the Republican Party not only is not fading; it is growing.
That is a huge development. Although it is a stretch to call Marco Rubio an establishment candidate given he was elected with tea party support, and still enjoys significant tea party support, the Florida Senator is the leading non-outsider with 12% of the vote. While that's an improvement over his previous 8%, it is not clear how GOP establishment's rallying behind his candidacy gets him anywhere close to a majority of the vote. If Jeb Bush (3%), Chris Christie (4%), and John Kasich (2%), all dropped out and their support drifted to Rubio, he still would only have 21% of the vote, 15% behind where Trump is now.
Rubio continues to poll as the best general election candidate against Hillary Clinton, while Trump polls as the worst. Of course, head-to-head matchups don't mean much if you don't win the nomination.
There may be a time, in the not too distant future, when GOP establishment types have to eat crow and line up behind Cruz to prevent Trump from winning the nomination. Given Trump's lengthy liberal political history, and his history of being less than honest, conservatives have a lot to fear that Trump is simply pretending to support their views to win the nomination. That is even before you get to the controversial things Trump says and does while on the stump, including most recently mocking a reporter by imitating his disability.
Hillary Clinton is not a strong candidate. With Obama-fatigue setting in the, this is an election the Republicans should win. Yet, if Trump is nominated the Republicans not only are likely to lose, there is a possibility that Trump may actually lose all 50 states and sink Republican control of the Senate and House with him.
Yes, Ted Cruz is beginning to look like the only real alternative for conservatives.