This Week in GOP Polls: Trump v. Kelly

In August 2015, Fox News held the second GOP primary debate, and the first question to each candidate was aimed at an area of perceived weakness of theirs. Megyn Kelly was the questioner to Trump, and she asked him about his past disparaging remarks aimed at women. After the debate, many political pundits and media watchdogs praised Fox News for their tough, fair questions. Trump didn’t like how Kelly treated him, and he took to Twitter to voice his displeasure. He also had that infamous quote about blood coming out of her “wherever,” which was obviously a menstrual reference, though he vehemently denied it later. It’s par for the course when he attacks women. When he casually trashed Carly Fiorina’s face, he later said he meant her persona. Uh huh.

by John English
by John English

Over the months, Trump continued a one-sided feud with Megyn Kelly. He’d send her mean tweets, trash her at stump speeches, and generally seemed to be sending signals to Fox News that he did not want her as moderator at the debate in January. Now if Fox News had a rotating stable of anchors, maybe they could have given it to someone else, but think of this. If Fox News had decided that Kelly would not be one of the moderators, Trump would have declared it a victory. Fox News has Kelly, Bret Baier and Chris Wallace as their three top news people for debates; it’s been this way for years. So of course, Fox News isn’t going to capitulate to Trump and demote Kelly. She would be back.

So Trump, the master of perpetual media coverage, was able to keep himself in the news by building up the possibility of skipping the debate. When he finally did decide to skip it, Fox News sent out a statement that, among other things, asked how he could stand up to Putin if he can’t even stand up to Megyn Kelly? (Okay, now they’re just trolling.)

At this point, Donald Trump doesn’t need the debate. He’s ahead in Iowa and New Hampshire ever since he decided to attack Cruz as a Canadian Manchurian Candidate, a nasty guy that no one likes, and old-guard Republicans like Bob Dole and Trent Lott have come out and said that if they had to choose, they’d take Trump over Cruz.

If Trump skips this debate and still wins Iowa, he could conceivably decide to skip the next one too. And if he does and wins New Hampshire, he won’t need to attend another debate again.

Now to the polls.

The polls lately have been junk. When I look at the number of people surveyed and the margins of error, they’re all over the map. Some polls are worse than others. To really see how people are doing and where the trendlines are, it helps to look at each poll as they’ve reported their results month to month, especially the ones who have a larger sample size, smaller margin of error, and go with likely voters over registered voters.

Now with the Fox News debate criteria, tomorrow’s primetime debate line-up will be Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, John Kasich and Rand Paul. The primetime lineup would be Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum and Jim Gilmore. Santorum and Gilmore have been getting zeroes everywhere, but the threshold was so low (1% in ANY of the last six polls) that they’re getting on stage anyway. Fox News is doing a solid to their former employee Gilmore by letting him on stage again. I’m just glad ABC announced that they will not have an undercard for their post-Iowa debate. Which is good, because at least four candidates should drop out after Iowa.

So first, here are the RCP averages.

1. Donald Trump – 36.2%
2. Ted Cruz – 19.3%
3. Marco Rubio – 11%
4. Ben Carson – 7.8%
5. Jeb Bush – 5%
6. Chris Christie – 3.7%
7. John Kasich – 2.5%
7. Mike Huckabee – 2.5%
9. Carly Fiorina – 2.2%
10. Rand Paul – 2%

1. Trump – 32.7%
2. Cruz – 26.9%
3. Rubio – 12.6%
4. Carson – 7.6%
5. Bush – 3.7%
5. Paul – 3.7%

New Hampshire
1. Trump – 33%
2. Cruz – 13.3%
3. Kasich – 11.5%
4. Rubio – 10.5%
5. Bush – 8%
6. Christie – 7.2%

Now, to look at trending I’m going to focus on the Quinnipiac poll. While some of these polls are getting attention for having 266 or 378 in their sample, the Q poll always makes sure to have at least 600 likely voters, and their latest had an MOE of 3.8%.

Two weeks ago, the Q poll showed Iowa as this: Trump (31%), Cruz (29), Rubio (15), Carson (7), Christie (4), Bush (3), Huckabee (3), and everyone else between 0-2%.

In their latest Iowa poll, the order is Trump (31%), Cruz (29), Rubio (13), Carson (7), Paul (5), Bush (4), Christie (3), and everyone else between 0-2%.

Now any number of things could have led to the slight differences in numbers. Rubio’s getting overwhelmed in Iowa with negative attacks ads, more than any other candidate. Maybe that’s why he’s down 2. Rand Paul skipped the last debate rather than attend the undercard, and he used that time to keep campaigning in Iowa, and so he’s up 3, and now therefore qualifies to be there in primetime.

Now Trump and Cruz account for 60% of the respondents. They get 68% of men and 50% of women. Rubio and Carson do better with women. Trump does best with the rich and the poor, while Cruz and Rubio do best with the middle class. Cruz bests Rubio 49%-5% of those that call themselves “very conservative” but he only leads 21%-19% for those that are “somewhat conservative.” Trump gets 37% of those who self-identity as moderate or liberal.

The most interesting question to me was this: Is there anyone you definitely would not support as the Republican nominee for president?

1. No – 33%
2. Bush – 24%
2. Trump – 24%
4. Kasich – 15%
5. Christie – 14%
6. Cruz – 12%

1. No – 33%
2. Bush – 25%
3. Trump – 18%
4. Christie – 15%
4. Kasich – 15%
6. Cruz – 13%

1. Trump – 33%
2. No – 32%
3. Bush – 22%
4. Kasich – 15%
5. Christie – 12%
5. Cruz – 12%

33% of Iowa GOP women said they would NEVER support Trump for president. Remember this.

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