By Zachary Toillion
In 2012 and 2013 Chris Christie and Marco Rubio looked like the candidates to beat. Governor Christie led nearly all primary polls at this time and was beating Clinton in head to head matches. Through 2014 Christie and Rubio remained near the top, but were joined by Jeb Bush. Although he never ended up running, Romney was doing well in poling at this time, with a double digit lead over his closest rivals. Through Spring and early summer the race became a one on one brawl between Gov. Scott Walker and Jeb Bush.
Everything changes June 20th, when the first poll showing Donald Trump leading the field is released. Since that time, nearly every poll has shown Trump with a significant lead, with only a few polls showing Trump second. Trump has remained atop the polls for 184 days and counting, and there are only 42 days left until the first ballots are cast.
From 2008 to 2011 Romney lead all of his challengers with the exception of Mike Huckabee, who decided to not seek the nomination. Romney secured his frontrunner status in May 2011, winning the majority of the polls. Then, Rick Perry enters the race, and conservative grassroots got behind Michelle Bachmann From August 5th to October 2nd. After the primary January 19th through Jan. 31st Gingrich was in the lead. Romney again ceded front runner status, this time to Rick Santorum. Over the course of February.
At this point, Donald Trump needs to be seen as a serious contender for the Republican nomination. December polling marks a turning point where we begin to see some predictability. In 2008 this was seen with McCain’s rise in New Hampshire and Huckabee’s in Iowa. Both candidates were at the top of national polls with Governor Mitt Romney and Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Some have pointed to Giuliani’s position as a reason why the polls showing Trump ahead can’t be trusted. This assumption is faulty because Giuliani’s campaign strategy was a risky bet on Florida rather than the first 3 states.
According to RealClearPolitics, a poll aggregation site, Trump has a national lead of 17 points, is in 2nd place in Iowa by 4 points, has a lead in New Hampshire of 16 percent, a lead of 15 percent in South Carolina, and leads in another series of states set to vote in the March 4th “SEC Primary”.
In order to topple Trump, (or Cruz whom establishment Republicans also fear) the more conservative candidates like Carson, Santorum, and Huckabee will have to stay in the race to siphon off potential votes from Trump/Cruz. The more establishment candidates like Fiorina, Bush, Christie, Kasich and Rubio will all have to unify behind one candidate-most likely Rubio.
As the campaign goes on, Donald Trump looks more and more likely as a nominee.