Yesterday I asked how much Jeb Bush dropping out would help Rubio, assuming Rubio took every single Jeb! supporter. Today I have a little bit better of an idea of what might actually happen, at least for South Carolina.
Public Policy Polling released this, and the findings are fascinating. First, the overall results:
Donald Trump has a commanding lead that I doubt will materialize this well today at the voting booths. But anyway, more interesting is the next question concerning commitment. Kasich aside, Rubio’s supposed supporters are more likely to change their mind than anyone else. Carson aside, the most committed are Trump and Cruz supporters. So who would they break for if their candidate dropped out?
Yesterday I posted some speculations about which candidate supporters would go to if their guy dropped, and I got some of it right and some of it wrong. I doubted Cruz supporters would go for Rubio, but 25% of them supporters chose Rubio as their number two guy, yet 19% chose Trump, which I thought was a bit more likely. I was right that Carson supporters would break for Cruz and Trump and most definitely not for Rubio, but didn’t think they’d go to Jeb! in equal numbers to Trump.
Regardless, Trump seems to have a problem because he’s hardly anyone’s second choice. Even Bush gets more second-choice votes than Trump, and by 5%, too. This is that ‘cap’ pundits constantly talk about—that when there are more candidates in the race, Trump does well because the votes get scattered, but as things tighten his lead will diminish. This would seem to confirm that, except:
Trump wins even in scenarios where the race is between what will presumably be the last three or four remaining candidates. Of course, it’s healthy to keep in mind that this is skewed in favor of Trump because 36% of the respondents are his supporters, but guess what? He has no shortage of supporters. (Admittedly, some of this data is confounding: Though only 7% of Carson supporters said Rubio was their second choice, 26% support him in a Trump/Bush/Rubio/Cruz matchup.) Trump wins even when directly pitted against either Rubio or Cruz:
Of course, this is just SC, and it’s just one poll, but talk about Trump’s lead evaporating once it gets down to just a few candidates doesn’t seem overwhelmingly convincing, especially with how red many of the Super Tuesday states are. A lot of conservatives are saying whatever they can to themselves to try and block out the thought of a Trump nomination, but they better prepare themselves for it, because it is such a real possibility.