Not since spring have we had a poll of the Republican presidential primary that passes for interesting.
On Sunday, a month out from the start of voting, we finally got one.
A CBS News survey of New Hampshire has Donald Trump under 50 percent in the state, and Nikki Haley within 15 points of the frontrunner. She leads Trump on likability among Republican primary voters by nearly 20 points. The same poll has Chris Christie at 10 percent overall; if he were to exit the race before Election Day and his anti-Trump base moved to Haley, we’d have a true toss-up in a state that’s picked the eventual GOP nominee in every cycle for the past 20 years.
Note that I said this “passes for interesting,” not that it is interesting.
For starters, the margin of error of the poll is a hefty 5.5 percent, meaning Haley’s true level of support could be as low as 23.5 percent. (Or, I guess, as high as 34.5.) It’s also an outlier, as no other survey of New Hampshire has had Haley higher than 20 percent. And the data fails to account for any momentum Trump might gain in New Hampshire if he crushes the field in Iowa, where CBS News has him leading the caucus by 36 points. Haley is a distant third there at 13 percent.
In fact, according to the RealClearPolitics average, the frontrunner now enjoys his largest lead of the campaign in national polling. He’s at 63 percent today, more than—deep breath—50 points ahead of his nearest competitor.
Nikki Haley isn’t going to beat Trump for the nomination.