The accompanying chart depicts Real Clear Politics' rolling national polling averages for the GOP presidential nomination.
I've annotated a couple of key dates, December 29th (the most recent data) and October 29th, so we can see the current state of play and compare it with how the race looked two months ago.
There are some very interesting observations we can make and several expectations we might have based upon these numbers and trends:
• The three anti-establishment candidates (Trump, Cruz and Carson) have moved from an aggregate share of 55 percent two months ago to 63 percent today. Further, the top establishment candidates (Rubio, Bush, Christie and Fiorina) now command less than 25 percent, effectively unchanged from two months ago! This explains why the GOP establishment is in complete panic mode.
• After briefly flirting with the lead, Ben Carson is in a total freefall. Given his outsider candidacy, I think it unlikely that many of Carson's supporters will move to support an establishment candidate. My guess is that most will gravitate to Cruz or Trump.
• By adding 8.8 points over that period, Donald Trump has buttressed his support by nearly a third.
• The rise of Ted Cruz, from 6.6 percent to 18.6 percent, is impressive. The jump represents a 281 percent increase in support.
• After briefly flirting with a 15 percent support level, Marco Rubio has drifted backwards. His 60-day support has increased by 28 percent.
• The Bush campaign and its super PACs spent roughly $20 million on ads through November 21st; the result thus far is that he has lost roughly 35% of his support in the last 60 days. The Bush campaign appears so hard-pressed for dollars that it just canceled $3 million dollars in TV ad spending in Iowa and South Carolina.
• The Chris Christie mini-bump represents a move from 2 percent to 4.6 percent support; some pundits still see a road to the nomination for Christie, who has effectively banked his entire campaign on a good showing in New Hampshire (a la John McCain). Christie's problematic positions on Obamacare, climate change, gun control, etc., however, make him anathema to the base and therefore a longshot to gain any real traction.
• Carly Fiorina's entirely predictable and well-deserved meltdown, from 5.8 to 2.2 percent, likely buttressed Marco Rubio's numbers.
Donald Trump and Ted Cruz both have war chests of cash they intend to deploy in the weeks ahead.
"Cry 'Havoc!', and let slip the dogs of war."
Hat tip: BadBlue Real-Time News.