The establishment wing of the Republican party has been banking on the fact that once voters begin to focus on who can win in the Fall - electability - then they will see the folly of voting for Donald Trump and will turn to Marco Rubio, John Kasich, Jeb Bush or, Ted Cruz.
The problem with that - one of the problems - is this: The Democratic field is so weak that Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, or John Kasich beats either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. Or, at least fights them to a tie. The only break in the pattern is Cruz vs. Sanders as the chart below shows. (The poll only tested the four Republicans listed).
According to a USA Today poll the head-to-head match ups look like this:
Trump - Clinton: Trump 45-43
Trump - Sanders: Trump 44-43
Cruz - Clinton: Cruz 45-44
Cruz - Sanders: Sanders 44-42
Rubio - Clinton: Rubio 48-42
Rubio - Sanders: Rubio 46-42
Kasich - Clinton: Kasich 49-38
Kasich - Sanders: Kasich 44-41
The point is, electability is not an issue in the GOP field. According to this poll, whichever of these four candidates comes out of Cleveland as the nominee has an excellent shot at winning the election in the fall.Another poll released yesterday was the Wall Street Journal/NBC poll that showed Ted Cruz with a two percentage point lead over Donald Trump
The results are here (the first number is the latest percentage, the number in parentheses is from January's poll)
Cruz - 28 (20)
Trump - 26 (33)
Rubio - 17 (13)
Kasich - 11 (3)
Carson - 10 (12)
Bush - 4 (5)
In this poll, Cruz gained eight percentage points while Trump lost seven - a 15 point swing. As the pollsters said there is no way to tell whether these results are the beginning of a new trend, or are a "flash-in-the-pan" that will readjust next month.
Keep in mind these are national polls and we don't have a national primary. We don't even have a national general election. The November election will be fought in 51 individual elections (the District of Columbia gets 3 Electoral votes).
On the other side of the aisle, a CNN survey shows Bernie Sanders has pulled into a tie with Hillary Clinton in Nevada whose caucuses will be held this Saturday.
The Democratic caucuses in Nevada and the Republican South Carolina primary are this Saturday. The Republican caucuses in Nevada are onTuesday, February 23 while the Democratic South Carolina primary isSaturday, the 27th.
If Sanders wins look for the Clinton team to point out that these are non-binding caucuses (on the D side) which is true, but will hardly soothe the sting of losing a state in which Clinton held a double-digit lead a few months ago.
Hillary Clinton and her campaign are showing signs of panic. Hoping Sanders would get laughed off the stage hasn't worked, so now Hillary Clinton appears to be trying to shout him down.
Clinton's volume on the stump now reminds me of a garage band that has turned the volume knobs on their guitars up to 11.
Getting back to that WSJ/NBC poll, Ben Carson is hanging in with 10 percent of the vote. I don't know this for a fact, but I'm willing to bet a pretty expensive lunch that the Cruz team is looking for a way to convince the Carson team that it is time for Dr. Ben to get out of the race.
It is likely that a high percentage of Carson's voters would gravitate to Cruz helping him to consolidate the Evangelical vote and maybe open up some daylight between Cruz and Trump.
At four percent in the national poll, Jeb Bush looks like he's about done, but it will depend upon how he fares this Saturday in South Carolina.
The betting line is for Trump to win going away and if he does, there is probably no room for Bush to stay in the race. But, should Cruz and/or Rubio upset Trump, then the race becomes roiled enough for Bush to stay in through the March 1 Super Tuesday races and take his chances.
It looks like the races for the nomination are going to be close on both sides, and the race for the White House might be even closer.
Lad Link: Here's The Lad's (@ReedGalen) surveys the landscape including the effects of Justice Scalia's death, the FBI vs Apple, and the possibility of a third party race by Michael Bloomberg. Click HERE.
On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to the WSJ/NBC poll and the USA Today poll. Also, the permanent link to the primary and caucus calendar.
The Mullfoto is a wistful look at a long-time shop in Old Town forced out of business because it couldn't compete with the Internet.