Where It Counts: Huck, Cruz, Walker Lead

By Dick Morris on May 29, 2015

The conventional wisdom shows Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul competing strongly for the Republican presidential nomination. But a close analysis of the latest Quinnipiac Poll indicates that with strong elements of the Party’s right wing, they perform poorly in comparison to Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Scott Walker and, for now, Ben Carson.

Among all Republican voters, the poll shows Bush, Walker, Rubio, Huckabee, and Carson are all tied at 10% each while Paul lags at 7% and Cruz at 6%.

But an analysis of the three key conservative groups that drive the nominating process tells a different story:

Very Conservative

Carson = 14%
Huckabee = 13%
Walker = 12%
Cruz = 11%
Bush = 8%
Rubio = 8%
Paul = 8%

Tea Party

Cruz = 17%
Walker = 13%
Rubio = 12%
Carson = 12%
Huckabee = 10%
Paul = 9%
Bush = 6%

Evangelicals

Huckabee = 17%
Cruz = 10%
Bush = 9%
Walker = 8%
Paul = 8%
Carson = 8%
Rubio = 6%

The Tea Party and the Evangelicals are the two most important groups in a Republican primary.

Cruz dominates the Tea Party field and does well among Evangelicals. Huckabee dominates the Evangelical voter base and does well among Tea Party voters. Walker scores well among the Tea Party crowd but does poorly with Evangelicals.

By contrast, neither Paul nor Rubio trigger much enthusiasm in either group and do poorly among very conservative voters. Their poor showing among these key groups would seem to indicate that they might find it difficult to motivate their voters.

For Jeb Bush, his tepid showing with Evangelicals and Tea Party backers may not be lethal. His prestige and money will likely even the odds down the road.

The poll begs the question of whether Ben Carson’s support is real. Coming in with the top tier among all primary voters and first among very conservative Republicans, indicates a great deal of latent power. Whether he can sustain that is another question. How much of his support is biographic reflecting his celebrity status as a role model/doctor? Can he transfer it to a political context?

We will see, but the poor showing of Rubio and Paul and the strong appeal to staunch conservatives of Huckabee, Cruz, and Walker is the real story of this early date in the contest.

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