A new poll from ABC News and The Washington Post has Sen. Marco Rubio jumping into third place with 10% of the vote–behind Ben Carson’s 22% and Donald Trump’s 33%.
But, despite his numbers being substantially lower than the two political outsiders holding the top two spots, his sudden rise could show that the rest of the Republican Party is starting to coalesce behind one “establishment” pick: Rubio.
While Trump has been the distant frontrunner for months, he’s continued to hit a polling ceiling in the low-30s.
While that’s enough to vault him past the gigantic Republican field during the early stages of the primary season, where most contenders are polling in the single-digits, it nevertheless shows that about two-thirds of the Republican Party are still not in his corner–despite months of media attention and virtually universal name recognition.
Were Rubio to pick up support from other establishment candidates as they drop out of the race, he would be in a prime position to challenge Trump in a showdown of the Republican grassroots–who support Trump’s tough talk and resilience–versus the Republican establishment–who want to see a candidate with political experience and a proven ability to reach independent voters.
However, as this political season has shown, virtually anything can happen in a presidential race. Six months ago, no one predicted Trump would even enter the race, let alone lead it.
Were something damaging to come out about Trump or Carson, for example, their large bases support could quickly erode–and send many of their supporters to other candidates.
While the race continues to change day by day, it’s clear that, eventually, one establishment pick will go head-to-head with Trump–and, despite Trump’s big lead right now, he’ll need to continue to grow his base of support in order to beat the establishment’s eventual compromise pick.