Is Donald Trump losing his national lead to arch-rival Ted Cruz? A shocking new poll released Wednesday says exactly that, showing that Cruz has somehow erased what just one month ago had been a 13-point nationwide lead for Trump in the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. But the surprising result from the otherwise reputable NBC/Wall Street Journal poll was immediately called into question, as it was sharply contradicted by two other major national polls released on the same day.
The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll which had Trump ahead by double-digits in January now shows evangelical Texas Senator Ted Cruz running slightly ahead of the New York businessman and television entertainer Trump, with 28 percent of Republican voters nationally backing his candidacy, as opposed to 26 percent for Trump.
— WPA Research (@WPAResearch) February 17, 2016
According to the election-predicting site FiveThirtyEight, which evaluates each major nationwide poll for accuracy, the NBC News/ Wall Street Journal poll receives a grade of “A minus” based on historical results and other factors taken into account by FiveThirtyEight statisticians.
But in the case of the latest Donald Trump vs. Ted Cruz poll, the NBC/WSJ survey appears out of step.
It’s time to play can you find the outlier game. Good luck! pic.twitter.com/M0RJW7ps44
— Jim Spivey (@jamesspivey) February 17, 2016
Even including the new poll which shows Cruz in the lead — though within the poll’s margin of error, meaning that in reality the poll shows a statistical dead heat between Cruz and Trump — the latest FiveThirtyEight national polling average shows Trump with a whopping 15 percentage point lead nationally.
Pollster, which also runs an ongoing average of all major national polls, though using a slightly different formula for “weighting” each poll, sees Trump holding an even more imposing 19 point lead, while Real Clear Politics sees a somewhat tighter but still lopsided race, with Trump out in front of Cruz by 11.3 percentage points in the national polling average — also including the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.
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Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have been waging an intensely personal campaign, with accusations of lying and political dirty tricks flying between them, largely from Trump toward Cruz, as seen in the following excerpt from last Saturday’s Republican debate.
Two other polls made public on Wednesday were more in line with the prevailing national averages in the Trump vs. Cruz race.
A poll conducted by Ipsos, a research firm which also receives an “A minus” grade from the FiveThirtyEight evaluators, and sponsored by the news agency Reuters showed Donald Trump building his lead to more than 20 points over Cruz, garnering more than 40 percent support from Republican voters nationwide.
Also on Wednesday, a Quinnipiac University poll showed Trump building his share of national Republican voters to 39 percent, up eight points from just two weeks ago in the same Quinnipiac poll. But Cruz actually lost ground according to that poll, dropping four percentage points to 18 percent support.
But the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll paints an entirely different picture, with Cruz taking the lead — a result that seems to have puzzled even the pollster who conducted the controversial survey.
“When you see a number this different, it means you might be right on top of a shift in the campaign. What you don’t know yet is if the change is going to take place or if it is a momentary ‘pause’ before the numbers snap back into place,” pollster Bill McInturff told NBC News. “We will have to wait this time and see what voters decide.”
The last time any other Republican candidate came close to Trump was in late October when retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson closed to within five points of Trump not only in one poll, but in the national averages as well. But Donald Trump quickly rebuilt his lead and Carson has since faded to become a non-factor in the campaign, showing just single-digit support in the polling averages, leaving Ted Cruz as his only noteworthy competitor.
[Featured Photo By Chuck Burton/Associated Press]