This past Wednesday marked the release of the most recent national polling from The Washington Post and ABC News. Little has changed in the overall numbers: Donald Trump still leads the field with 32 percent of the vote, while Ben Carson is his closest rival at 22 percent. Marco Rubio (10 percent), Jeb Bush (7 percent), and Ted Cruz (6 percent) round out the top five.
Interestingly, however, the survey also asked Republican-leaning respondents which candidate they thought was most likely to win the nomination, regardless of their own preferences. The results were unambiguous:
- Donald Trump: 42%
- Ben Carson: 15%
- Jeb Bush: 12%
- Marco Rubio: 5%
- Ted Cruz: 3%
- Mike Huckabee: 2%
- Chris Christie: 1%
- Carly Fiorina: 1%
- Rand Paul: 1%
- Rick Santorum: 1%
- John Kasich: <1%
Earlier this year, it was Jeb Bush who enjoyed the status of the “inevitable nominee,” with his intimidating fundraising and high polling numbers. Due to Bush’s poor standing with the Republican base, his nomination chances appeared slim aside from successfully cultivating an image as the imminent favorite and best chance to defeat the Democrats in the general election. It would seem that illusion has now been utterly dispelled.
Over half of the electorate now see the nomination going to an outsider candidate—mainly Donald Trump. And not only that: 43 percent of those same respondents also believe Trump “has the best chance of getting elected president in November 2016.” Trump is not only the new “inevitable nominee,” but he is also more and more being seen as the GOP’s best general election hope as well. Additionally, Trump wins the vote as the candidate who “best understands the problems of people like you,” a measure where past establishment candidates like Mitt Romney have notably struggled.
Bush, on the other hand, is now only perceived as the likely nominee by 12 percent of voters, and as the Republican’s best chance in 2016 by 13 percent, a distant third place on both counts. With his favorability already far below that of his rivals and no momentum to speak of, Bush’s presidential hopes are looking increasingly grim. And with the Iowa Caucus now looming just over three months away, his campaign, and those of his fellow establishment candidates, clearly have their work cut out for them.
The Republican Party, meanwhile, had better start preparing for the possibility of a Trump nomination.
Paul Dupont is the managing editor for ThePulse2016.com.