The Presidential Pensieve for October 26, 2015

Splash water dropFor the first time, we’re beginning to see real cracks in Donald Trump’s armor of invincibility, but not in the way many expected to see it. Iowans seem to vacillating between Trump and second-place Ben Carson in an either-or scenario, seemingly depending on which talking points are resonating.

Immigration is still important, but abortion and the Second Amendment are beginning to rise to the top. Trump scores better on the Second Amendment, while Carson scores better on abortion, which is creating the apparent indecisiveness. But, it seems a majority of Iowa Republicans have decided it’s going to be one of those two candidates in February.

Trump has taken a hit, but still leads. Carson is surging. Cruz is holding steady. Fiorina is falling off. Bush has flat-lined. But the real game-changer is Huckabee’s “mini-surge” that has vaulted him into the top four. He’s received a couple of important endorsements over the past week that will gain him an extra point or two in the next round of polls.

Don’t read more into that than it is, though. He’s nowhere near where he needs to be to win the Iowa Republican Caucus, if it were held tomorrow. We still don’t entirely trust the polling numbers, so we continue to deviate from them, and we’re still holding our turnout projection at 135,000.

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The Rest of the Field — 14,500 votes.

7. Jeb Bush — 4,500 votes — and in danger of falling below our minimum requirement for continued reporting.

6. Carly Fiorina — 7,500 votes — all the money in the world can’t make Iowa voters like bad policies.

5. Marco Rubio — 8,500 votes — and can’t go any higher, minus the Iowa GOP establishment’s help.

4. Mike Huckabee — 9,000 votes — but in need of an overpowering “moment” to surpass any of those ahead of him right now.

3. Ted Cruz — 21,000 votes — and holding steady.

2. Ben Carson — 30,000 votes — and surging at just the right time to have a meaningful impact on the race leading up to February.

1. Donald Trump — 40,000 votes — and still out front for now, but he’s taken a hit due to his perceived weakness on abortion.