By Dave Andrusko
Talk about piling on. Over the weekend and Monday, The Reno Gazette Journal (via Jon Ralston) and the Washington Post (in the form of Chris Cillizza interviewing Ralston) delivered devastating hits on Hillary Clinton. As we all know, political reporters love momentum stories and these accounts have Clinton’s fellow pro-abortionist Democratic Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders making serious inroads in the first of Clinton’s “firewalls”—this Saturday’s Nevada caucuses.
Today the Post completes the loop by running a column by Ralston (“Nevada is no longer a ‘lock’ for Hillary Clinton”). Ralston upped the rhetorical ante, “The Clinton fear is palpable,” adding
If he can make it in Nevada, Sanders can proffer the argument that he can win anywhere in America, not just in less diverse states such as Iowa and New Hampshire. And it could raise serious questions about Clinton’s ability to fend off his insurgent challenge that was once considered a lark.
On the Republican side, Ralston, the dean of Nevada political reporters, believes Trump remains comfortably ahead of Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Ted Cruz (Tx.). There are several wildcards, here’s perhaps the most important.
As we mentioned yesterday, Republicans hold their Nevada caucuses, not this Saturday—that’s the South Carolina primaries—but next Tuesday. Turnout is traditionally low—8% in the 2012 GOP caucuses, according to Ralston—and it could be under 10% again next week.
Speaking of Saturday’s South Carolina’s Republican primary, a poll released today by PPP finds
Donald Trump with a wide lead in the state. He’s at 35% to 18% each for Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, 10% for John Kasich, and 7% each for Jeb Bush and Ben Carson. …
The race is still pretty fluid in South Carolina–29% of voters say they might change their minds between now and Election Day. Trump benefits from having supporters who are pretty resolute though–77% of them say they will definitely vote for him, compared to 76% for Cruz and 62% for Rubio. Among voters who say their minds are completely made up, Trump’s support goes up to 40% to 20% for Cruz and 16% for Rubio.
There are some reasons within the numbers to think Rubio might put in an unexpectedly strong performance on Saturday night. If voters have to choose just among the top three candidates he finishes in a clear second place with 28% to Trump’s 40% and Cruz’s 22%. Among voters who are either undecided or support one of the also rans- Bush, Carson, Kasich- 37% say they would move to Rubio compared to 19% for Trump and 13% for Cruz if they had to choose one of the top three. So if strategic voting occurs, that’s likely to be to Rubio’s benefit.
Stay tuned, it’s going to be wild seven days.