Donald Trump was supposed to have a low ceiling of support. Sure, 30 percent of the GOP base might actually vote for a walking, talking caricature of capitalist excess. But once the field inevitably narrowed, the pundits assured us, a majority of Republicans would rally around an actual politician — one with public-sector experience and an aversion to menstruation jokes.
The first national poll released after the Donald’s triumph in New Hampshire suggests that the chattering classes might not know what they’re chattering about. Morning Consult finds Trump polling at 44 percent, with Texas senator Ted Cruz in a distant second at 17 percent. Florida senator Marco Rubio, the Establishment’s great Hispanic hope as of one week ago, has fallen to 10 percent. Rubio’s decision to come out as a robot built by Glenn Beck appears to have cost him dearly, as he is now tied with Ben Carson — a perpetually sedated amateur Egyptologist who doesn’t even really have a campaign anymore — for third place. The Establishment’s favorite son, Jeb Bush, is two points behind Carson.
With Rubio falling by the wayside, it’s genuinely difficult to see how Donald Trump doesn’t become the Republican standard-bearer. If these numbers hold, he would easily win a three-man race with Cruz and any of the Establishment-approved options.
Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, the race has tightened by six points since Bernie Sanders’s big win in New Hampshire. Hillary Clinton leads the democratic socialist by the slim margin of 46 to 39 percent. What’s more, for the first time in Morning Consult’s polling of the race, Sanders boasts a higher favorability rating among Democrats, enjoying the approval of 78 percent of his party’s voters, compared to 75 percent for Clinton.
A Trump and Sanders general-election campaign now looks genuinely possible. The latest weather report from hell is cloudy with a chance of freezing rain.