Comparing apples to apples, the last CBS-New York Times poll, which was taken between October 21-25, had Carson in the lead with 26%, Trump at 22%, Rubio 8%, and former Florida Governor Jeb
In the most recent poll, Paul has 4%, while Bush, Kasich, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Huckabee are at 3%.
One of the things I'm looking at is the total anti-establishment sentiment expressed in the polls. If you look at the outsiders (Trump, Carson, Cruz, Fiorina and Paul) in the CBS-NY Times Poll, they are totaling 69% of the vote, a figure that's consistent with other recent polls.. Unless Rubio can successfully portray himself as anti-Establishment, I don't see a path to his victory. I stand by my assertion that it appears that Ted Cruz is the only candidate positioned to defeat Trump for the nomination.
The nomination of Trump would be a disaster for conservatives. With the unpopular Hillary Clinton the almost certain Democratic presidential nominee, the Republicans are on the precipice of dominating all three branches of government as well as state legislatures and governorships. The only missing piece is the White House. By nominating Trump, who consistently polls as the worst general election candidate against Clinton and exceeds the former Secretary of State in untrustworthiness, Republicans could well lose all 50 states.
But in the extremely unlike scenario that Trump won the general election, it is unclear what conservatives actually win. Pre-candidate Trump held consistently liberal political opinions which didn't magically change 180 degrees until he decided to run as a Republican. Trump has declared himself to be for socialized medicine, gun control, the use of eminent domain to acquire land for developers, and said he was "very pro choice," including supporting partial birth abortion. Despite having changed several of his views (including his opinion on immigration and Muslims), Trump often appears to forget he is running as a Republican, reverting to pronouncing liberal positions on the campaign trail. On the stump, Trump has expressed support higher taxes, an expansion of Obamacare, higher taxes and the continued funding of Planned Parenthood. He also continues to stand by his support of the use of use eminent domain to take away a woman's house for parking for limos at his casino in Atlantic City.
One thing is certain. If Trump is the nominee, conservatives lose before even the first shot of the general election is fired.