Since we now have not one but two developments (the CNN debate and the “winnowing” of Scott Walker) that some folks are eagerly greeting as signaling the beginning of the end for crazy-ass Republican presidential candidates, I’ll be watching the next few polls more closely than is usual, if only to test the hypothesis.
Last week I mentioned a Morning Consult poll showing basically that Carly Fiorina was surging, but not so much at the expense of fellow zero-experience candidates Trump and Carson. Sunday CNN/ORC also had a Carly boom, with Trump still comfortably (9 points) in the lead but down a bit, basically to where he was in August. And now PPP has an Iowa survey showing Trump still leading there with 24%, up a bit from where he was immediately after the Fox debate, but trailing in head-to-head match-ups with all the major candidates other than Jeb Bush. All the polls have the three zero-experience candidates holding a majority of the vote; none of them are showing any big gains for the Establishment troika of Bush, Rubio and Kasich.
Sure, you can imagine a future in which the zero-experience candidates all fade and party elites unite behind someone else, particularly if you dismiss such disruptive possibilities as, say, a Cruz boom. But if normalcy is the destination, it’s unclear what the next milestone on that road might be.