The veneer is fading from Donald Trump’s candidacy. For months, the businessman defied the expectations of pundits, data crunchers and even his fellow Republican candidates by maintaining a stranglehold on the race for the GOP presidential nomination.
We’ve noted how our research measured Trump’s supporters’ genuine enthusiasm for his campaign. But in New Hampshire we’re now beginning to see that support weaken. While Trump still leads the field, the rise of other candidates indicates that voters may be interested in what other Republican hopefuls have to offer.
Right now, in our Average Analysis, Trump has 20.7 percent support, which is still a substantial lead over Ben Carson, the new second-place contender and the subject of Trump’s recent Iowa diatribe. The former surgeon is currently up to 11.1 percent support in the Granite State.
Since our last look at New Hampshire, Trump’s average support has dropped 0.9 percent. While this may not seem drastic, a look at the internal numbers tells a different story.
As we’ve described in detail in other articles, Trendency Research implements what we term Threshold Analysis that allows us to examine a candidate’s strength of support on a sliding scale. Those supporters of Trump, for instance, who are at the higher Thresholds are his ardent voters and are less likely to look to other candidates. Supporters at lower Thresholds are more prone to switch their allegiance or may currently support more than one candidate.
Three weeks ago, Trump garnered a staggering 63 percent of the vote at the 90 Threshold and 53 percent of the vote at the 75 Threshold. Now, these numbers have dropped to 50 percent and 36 percent respectively. Trump’s Commitment Index, a measurement of close-to-guaranteed support, has dropped 3 points, from 15 percent to 12 percent of voters. Trump still leads, but he’s lost some of his strongest supporters.
Dropping along with Trump is Carly Fiorina. In our earlier article on the race in New Hampshire, we focused on the weak support that she possessed and the high likelihood of that support evaporating. In fact, this appears to be the case. At the 25 Threshold, where she gathered 19 percent of the vote in October, she now only has 12 percent. Where she was a clear second place among non-Trump voters, she’s now a middle-of-the-pack candidate.
So if Trump and Fiorina have dipped in recent weeks, who’s risen to take those newly available supporters? Lots of people.
At the higher Thresholds, we see positive movement for Rand Paul, who now gets 14 percent of the vote at the 90 Threshold, and for the aforementioned Carson. The former surgeon, who had no strong supporters just three weeks ago, now gets 7 percent of the vote at the 90 Threshold and 14 percent at the 75 Threshold. Overall, he’s now in second place in New Hampshire.
At the lower Thresholds, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Paul have each had their vote shares increase recently while Fiorina was the biggest loser at the 50 and 25 Thresholds. This indicates that these four candidates, at least in part, have benefited from her drop.
What about Jeb Bush, who’s the latest punching bag for pundits? His electoral picture in New Hampshire indeed looks less rosy than it did just three weeks ago. While he still maintains 14 percent of the vote at the 90 Threshold — down 4 points — he only receives 9 percent support at the 75 Threshold. That’s down 11 points. Voters who used to be core Bush supporters appear to be abandoning his camp.
Our data shows the Republican presidential primary vote in New Hampshire is getting more muddled as time passes. If Trump’s support continues to erode and no establishment candidate jumps away from the pack, we could be in for a wild week between the Iowa caucuses and the vote in New Hampshire.
Stefan Hankin is founder and president of Lincoln Park Strategies, a Washington D.C.-based public opinion firm. Follow him on Twitter at @LPStrategies.