Some of the key takeaways from polling in the critical states of New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida:
In South Carolina:
• "Cruz and Trump are tied at 27 percent. Rubio and Ben Carson roughly tied at 12 percent and 11 percent each, respectively. Bush had 7 percent support; 5 percent backed other candidates and 11 percent were undecided."
• "[The] favorable-unfavorable image test: 71 percent have a favorable impression of Cruz and 17 percent an unfavorable impression (a net positive rating of +54 percent). Rubio 70-16 percent; Carson 63-25 percent; Trump 56-37 percent and Bush 42-49 percent (a net negative rating of -7)."
• "[Among undecided voters] Trump had a net-negative image rating of -15 compared to Cruz’s +23 and Rubio’s +22."
• "Trump leads with 24 percent, followed by Cruz at 16 percent, Rubio at 14 percent, Chris Christie at 13 percent and Bush at 9 percent. The other candidates pull a combined 13 percent of the vote and 11 percent are undecided."
• "[The] favorable-unfavorable image test: 69 percent have a favorable impression of Rubio and 18 percent an unfavorable impression (a net positive rating positive rating of +51 percent). Cruz 65-19 percent; Christie 66-22 percent; Carson 52-32 percent; Trump 48-45 and Bush 39-48 (a -9 rating)."
• "[Among undecided voters], Trump had a net-negative rating of -30 compared to Rubio’s +18 and Cruz’s +20."
• "Trump leads with 29 percent (4 percentage-point loss since AIF’s August Florida poll); followed by Cruz 18, who gained the most since August, 15 percentage points. Rubio is essentially tied with him at 17 percent (a gain of 10 points), followed by Bush at 10 percent (a loss of 3 points)."
• "]The] favorable-unfavorable image test: 73 percent have a favorable impression of Rubio and 18 percent an unfavorable impression (a net positive rating positive rating of +55 percent). Cruz 70-18 percent; Carson 67-21 percent; Trump 61-34 percent and Bush 56-36 percent."
On the Non-Existent Chris Christie "Surge":
Caputo notes that the New Jersey governor appears to be a northeast regional candidate -- who has spent most of his time campaigning in [New Hampshire] -- because he is hovering well under 5% in both Florida and South Carolina.
A Paradox for the GOPe
And then there's this:
For Florida Republicans, the poll has a measure of bitter irony because it shows that Bush, whose political network fostered Rubio and helped his political career right through his 2010 Senate race, could be costing Rubio a shot at the GOP nomination by virtue of staying in the race and syphoning votes from the senator...
...Rather than “dominating the Republican field” as Trump and news media reports state, Tyson wrote that the candidate’s frontrunner status “is mostly a result of simple mathematics rather than his prowess as a candidate. After all, any candidate who is backed by 25% of a likely electorate will look ‘dominant’ when ~65% of that electorate is split 12 ways and another ~10% remain undecided.”
...The focus group also drove home the sense of “profound alienation” between Republicans, their party and “elected leaders at virtually all levels of government,” the memo said.
The summary of the focus group testing indicated that those candidates who most resonate with the electorate's deep unhappiness with the GOP establishment -- i.e., Ted Cruz and Donald Trump -- will have the "best starting positions as the 2016 primaries begin."
Hat tip: BadBlue News.