It’s still the summer (of Trump), with more than four months to go before any registered Republican voter actually goes to the polls. But at what point do the campaigns of Florida favorite sons Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio start growing seriously concerned?
Conventional wisdom espoused by political observers in Florida and around the nation is that Bush could still be the likely GOP nominee when the Republicans hold their convention in Cleveland next June. If so, however, it will be one heck of a story.
A CNN/ORC poll released Thursday morning shows New York City real estate magnate Donald Trump now at 32 percent support, becoming the first Republican in a national poll to top 30 percent this year. Trump has gained eight points since August. The new poll also finds another non-politician, former neurosurgeon Ben Carson, rising 10 points, and now resides in second place with 19 percent support.
And Bush? He’s in third place with 9 percent support. That’s down four percentage points in the last month.
The former Florida governor has begun taking on Trump more directly on the campaign stump and in his first televised ad currently airing this week in New Hampshire. He also aired a web ad last week and a “quiz” on his website where he also began attacking Trump as being a faux-conservative. To date, however, those attacks are coming up short.
While Bush is struggling, Marco Rubio’s candidacy is cratering.
Rubio is at 3 percent in the CNN/ORC Poll. That’s a five- percentage-point drop from August, and puts him in a tie for 7th place in the new poll, along with Carly Fiorina and Rand Paul, and behind Ted Cruz (7 percent), Scott Walker (5 percent) and Mike Huckabee (5 percent).
Earlier this year, conventional wisdom had it that the top three GOP presidential contenders were Bush, Rubio and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. While there have been a number of stories over the past week (such as in this long National Review piece) about how Walker has suffered due to the Trump insurgency, the two Florida Republicans have also seen their images (along with poll numbers) suffer.
Actually, Rubio only emerged hot in the polls in the immediate aftermath of his announcement that he was running for president in Miami back in April.
Bush has been a more consistent performer, and for weeks was running one-two with Trump in state and national polls. He’s now been usurped by the unusual strength of Ben Carson, who continues to get double-digit support since the first GOP presidential debate during the first week of August. Bush is third in nearly every major poll, but behind both Trump and Carson.
For all the 17 GOP presidential candidates, their best hopes to change the narrative could be the second debate(s), which will take place next Wednesday night in Simi Valley, Calif. Like the first Fox debate, there will actually be two debates. The first one featuring the seven lower-ranking Republicans will air at 6 p.m. Eastern, with the main event scheduled for 8 p.m.
The CNN/ORC Poll was conducted by telephone September 4-8 among a random national sample of 1,012 adults. This sample included 930 interviews with registered voters, 474 of whom were self-identified Republicans or Republican-leaning independents. For results among all registered voters, the margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points. Among Republican voters, it is plus or minus 4.5 points.