Call it failure to launch for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) as, despite a minor bump in the polls a month or so after his April presidential campaign launch, the 44-year-old junior senator from Florida is now officially relegated to the middle of the pack—where he’s been unable to climb out.
Rubio was supposed to be the golden boy who could woo the donor class but still excite the grassroots. He’s succeeded in winning over lots of big-money backing, with billionaire donors like Oracle’s Larry Ellison, casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, Miami-area auto dealer Norman Braman, and more behind him. But he’s failed so far to gain traction among the voting class—the people a candidate needs to win over to win elections since politicians, as much as they might want to, can’t buy electoral victory.
While Rubio’s funk continues, real estate magnate billionaire Donald Trump remains at the top of the Republican pack with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker nipping at his heels. At the same time, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is surging past Rubio underneath Trump, Bush and Walker, pulling close to the top tier of candidates.
The poll, which surveyed 230 Registered Republicans and 189 registered independents who lean Republican from July 22 to July 25 with a margin of error of 5 percent, found Trump is still firmly in the lead as the sole Republican frontrunner.
Trump wins 18 percent to top the poll, while Bush comes in second place with 15 percent. Walker pulls 10 percent and Cruz is in fourth place now with 7 percent. Rubio comes in tied for fifth with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) at 6 percent, and he’s followed by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee with 5 percent and Dr. Ben Carson, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Ohio Gov. John Kasich with 4 percent apiece—rounding out the top 10 in this poll.
That means if this poll were the arbiter as to who gets on the stage in the looming first debate, the following candidates wouldn’t make it: former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore and former New York Gov. George Pataki.
Cruz’s surge comes after just a month ago, according to CNN-ORC, he was down at 3 percent. That four points is a remarkable swing in such a crowded primary for the Texas senator, who’s actually hauled in more hard money for his presidential campaign than the entire rest of the GOP field.
That CNN-ORC poll is a national one, but a pair of new NBC News-Marist polls from the early states of Iowa and New Hampshire show pretty much the same results happening on the ground.
Trump is leading New Hampshire with 21 percent, followed by Bush at 14 percent and Walker at 12 percent in the NBC-Marist New Hampshire poll of 401 GOP voters from July 14 to July 21 with a margin of error of 4.9 percent. That means Trump is far-and-away the GOP frontrunner in the Granite State, well outside the margin of error. A couple other interesting developments follow that front-running three candidates in New Hampshire that are different from the national polls: Kasich comes in fourth with 7 percent, Christie and Carson are tied for fifth with 6 percent apiece, and Rubio and Cruz tie for seventh with 5 percent apiece. Paul is ninth with 4 percent, and Huckabee is 10th with 3 percent.
In the Iowa NBC-Marist poll of 342 Republicans with a margin of error of 5.3 percent, Walker is in front with 19 percent—while Trump is hot on his tail with 17 percent. Bush gets 12 percent, followed by Carson with 8 percent, Huckabee with 7 percent, Paul with 5 percent and Cruz and Rubio both with 4 percent. Perry gets 3 percent, and tied for tenth are Christie and Kasich both with 2 percent.
Politico’s Mike Allen’s Playbook on Sunday morning—using data calculated by his Politico colleague Steve Shepard from various polls—concluded that the following eight GOP candidates are definitely going to be on the debate stage on Aug. 6 in Cleveland, Ohio: Trump, Bush, Walker, Huckabee, Rand, Rubio, Carson and Cruz.
Meanwhile, Christie and Perry are on the bubble but in for now, while Santorum and Kasich are on the bubble but out for now. That means, the Politico authors conclude, that Jindal, Fiorina, Graham, Pataki and Gilmore are definitely not going to be on the stage on Aug. 6, barring some unforeseen development in the next week or so.