by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
So what have we learned about the race for the Republican nomination for president so far?
1.) Nobody is running away with it. In no national poll of Republican primary voters this year has any one of the dozen or so candidates tested received more than 20 percent of the vote.
And only twice has any candidate received more than 20 percent in the multiple polls conducted in the four early states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.
Some commentators expected Jeb Bush to jump into a significant lead when he made it clear he would in time announce. That hasn’t happened. At this point in the 2000 cycle, Gallup showed George W. Bush with over 50 percent of the primary vote. Jeb Bush’s current realclearpolitics.com average is 17 percent, just tenths of a percentage point ahead of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. …
… 2.) Numbers can move fast. Speaking of Walker, on January 24 he gave a well-received speech at the Freedom Summit in Des Moines. The next round of polls showed him shooting up from single digits in the middle of the pack to double digits up at the top.
And not just in Iowa, but also nationally — including New Hampshire, South Carolina and elsewhere. Evidently some significant quantum of Republican primary voters are paying attention to what is happening not only in their own media markets but all over the nation. They’re keeping up on digital media.
Walker is not the only one who has benefited. In the three national polls and one South Carolina poll conducted since his announcement, Ted Cruz also moved from single digits to double digits, and money followed. Now we’ll see whether Rand Paul’s numbers increase. …
… 3.) Money doesn’t have much to do with this, at least so far. Political reporters like to keep tabs on how much money candidates are raising and if they’re making progress attracting big money donors to sympathetic superPACs. That, like poll numbers, is a measure of support, but it doesn’t seem dispositive yet.