We were just wondering whether Quinnipiac's latest Iowa poll was a one-off outlier, or indicative of a genuine shift in attitudes. Enter a second, meaningful data point -- via the respected Des Moines Register statewide survey. Yuge:
Donald Trump is the biggest loser in the new Iowa Poll. The pious Ben Carson has plowed past the braggadocious New York businessman to take the front-runner crown, unseating Trump as the most popular choice for president among likely GOP caucusgoers, the new Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics poll shows. Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, is the favorite choice for 28 percent — 9 percentage points ahead of Trump's 19 percent...Asked which candidate they’d like to see drop out of the race, if anyone, more caucusgoers (25 percent) name Trump than any of his 14 rivals...Moving up into third place in the Iowa horse race is Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, at 10 percent support. Close on his heels is the top establishment contender, Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, at 9 percent. Tied for fifth at 5 percent are former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul...
Carson also leads the pack on personal favorability among Hawkeye State Republicans, enjoying a whopping (+72) rating, followed by Rubio (+50), Carly Fiorina (+44) and Ted Cruz (+35). For analysts still puzzled by the popularity of "outsider" candidates this cycle, they need look no further than this chart:
Much of the GOP electorate has seen enough of the political class, gravitating toward contenders who will seek to change the game from the outside. The obvious drawback to this calculation is that if elected, a political novice would have no choice but to lock horns with Congressional Democrats, whose leaders are adept at manipulating parliamentary procedure and the establishment media to achieve their ends. A neophyte president runs a high risk of getting rolled by ruthless, experienced actors. Another explanatory factor behind Carson and Trump's combined numbers is a roiling contempt for what primary voters would describe as political correctness: "Some controversial statements Carson has made are attractive in a majority of GOP caucus-goers’ eyes," the Register reports. "[Eighty-one] percent like that Carson has said Obamacare is the worst thing since slavery; 77 percent like that he has said Nazi Party leader Adolf Hitler might not have been as successful if the people had been armed; and 73 percent like that he has raised questions about whether a Muslim should ever be president of the United States." One red flag in the data for Carson is that just 15 percent of his supporters say they've made up their minds. That's the good news for the rest of the field -- many, many votes remain in play. So what explains Trump's fade in Iowa? He'd led in 13 consecutive surveys dating back to early August, and now finds himself slumping into second in two straight polls, both well beyond the margin of error. The conservative Club for Growth has a theory:
Inbox: Club for Growth Action on Trump’s Fall in Iowa: We Told You So— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) October 23, 2015
The group's press release, in full: "Two days, and two more polls with the same message that Club for Growth Action reported on October 6: Donald Trump lost his lead in Iowa,” said Club for Growth President David McIntosh. “CFG Action ran $1 million of television ads in Iowa exposing Donald Trump’s extremely liberal positions on taxes, health care, bailouts, and property rights, and the polls have made it clear: Trump loses when voters know the truth about him. He’s not a conservative, and he’s really just the worst kind of politician.” In mid-September, we reported on the CFG's upcoming seven-figure Iowa ad blitz exposing Trump's record as a very liberal, unscrupulous political actor. That messaging appears to have taken a toll, with Carson -- cough -- as the primary beneficiary. Parting thought: Remember Trump's eyebrow-raising retweet of a message mocking Iowans after the release of yesterday's unhelpful Quinnipiac poll? Here's his very special version of an apology:
The young intern who accidentally did a Retweet apologizes.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 22, 2015
UPDATE - Real trouble in Jebland:
Wow... *BUSH CAMPAIGN SLASHES STAFF SALARIES IN `AGGRESSIVE' SHAKEUP https://t.co/CwebbevHGq— Joseph Weisenthal (@TheStalwart) October 23, 2015
In the Des Moines Register poll cited above, Republican voters split (42/47) on whether Bush's family ties are a good or bad thing. Is he "toast"?