Front-runner extends his advantage in slew of new polls
Thus far, while Donald Trump’s bid to be the Republican Nominee has dominated the headlines, polls, tone and narrative of that race, betting markets have generally remained sceptical.
It is all froth, driven by a media seeking viewers and fundamentally unreliable polls based on name recognition, so the theory goes. I’m broadly sticking with that analysis for now, but must acknowledge how good the last 24 hours or so have been for him.
First the polls. Today’s Washington Post national poll puts him way out in front for the nomination, on 32%, ten points up on Ben Carson and 22 on market favourite Marco Rubio. This follows on from leads of 3, 5 and 10% in three polls yesterday. In New Hampshire, he leads by 7 and 12% in two surveys today.
The most significant thing about those national polls is not Trump’s share, but the distribution of support amongst his rivals. Instead of the new 2.5% cut off point whittling the field ahead of next week’s CNBC debate, opposition to the front-runner will remain chaotically divided. Ten candidates are set to appear on the main stage, minus the already withdrawn Scott Walker.
On the evidence of the two previous debates, this helps Trump. Everyone will remember his digs at rivals. Everyone will remember the opponent that hits back most effectively – Carly Fiorina last time. The rest will be largely forgotten.
Lest we forget, Walker was initially a frontline contender. Two anonymous debate performances – that owed as much to airtime and the choices of moderators than bad answers – collapsed his poll ratings and forced him out.
Jeb Bush and Rubio, who might have hoped mainstream rivals Chris Christie and John Kasich would be relegated to the minor debate, have cause for concern. All urgently need to win New Hampshire and cannot afford the mainstream, non-Trump vote to be split four ways. Five including Fiorina.
Finally, all the Republican candidates may be breathing a sigh of relief after Joe Biden’s decision not to run. Many polls have suggested the VP would be their most dangerous rival. Instead, they will face a slightly damaged Hillary Clinton or an unknown socialist quantity in Bernie Sanders.
At the time of writing, any pro-Trump market effects are limited. He remains around 14% for the Nomination, 7% for the Presidency. However many more days like this and we may all need to reconsider our early anti-Trump assumptions!