The latest on the presidential horse race.

2016 Republican Nomination December Polling Trends

Candidate

McClatchy
12/3-12/5

Quinnipiac
12/3-12/9

PPP
12/12-12/15

Fox News
12/14-12/16

Chris Christie

18

17

19

16

Ted Cruz

10

13

14

12

Rand Paul

10

14

11

11

Paul Ryan

11

9

10

12

Jeb Bush

10

11

10

12

Mike Huckabee

13

If the 2016 primaries and elections were held today, we know that Hillary Clinton would be the nominee Democratic nominee and would likely defeat any Republican candidate not named Chris Christie. What we don’t know is whether the Republicans are ready to nominate someone like Christie who has been labeled with the dreaded “moderate” label.

We’ve taken a look at all four major 2016 polls released in December to get a better sense of where candidates are. We removed the highest vote total and lowest vote total and averaged the remaining two poll results. Keep in mind, however, that many of the Republican primaries are “winner-take-all” which means delegates are not divided up based on percentage but are entirely allocated to the winner so national polls can only show us so much.

Chris Christie: 17-18 percent

Christie is the lead dog in the very crowded race and has a decent margin on Ted Cruz but also faces high unfavorable ratings among conservative Republicans. This week we found that Christie is the least popular Republican in Iowa where the first and often trend-setting caucus takes place.

Ted Cruz: 12-13 percent

Cruz lagged significantly behind Rand Paul but has leapfrogged the fellow Tea Partier in the last month. Even though he has been an outspoken Senator that gets plenty of air time, many still don’t have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of him so we will get a better sense of where the polarizing Texas Senator stands once he spends more time on the national stage in 2014.

Rand Paul: 11 percent

A couple of months ago we were talking about Paul as the biggest threat to Christie and, while that may still be true, the Kentucky Senator’s poll numbers have taken a hit of late. He was polling at 16-20 percent between September and November.

Paul Ryan: 10-11 percent

Ryan has seen a nice image spike of late after leading the budget negotiations in December. That may or may not be a good thing when it comes to appealing to the conservative base but we’ve seen Ryan with the highest favorable rating in Iowa and he is much better known than many of the other candidates after running on Romney’s ticket in 2012.

Jeb Bush: 10-11 percent

Bush is possibly the least exciting name among double-digit vote getters and hasn’t had much of a national presence since leaving office. The former Florida Governor has been polling around 10-11 percent consistently since the fall and doesn’t appear to be going anywhere.

Mike Huckabee: 13 percent

Huckabee’s name has only recently begun making it onto polls and the 2008 presidential candidate and winner of the Iowa caucus could be a game changer in the polls. His Fox News job and upcoming news site The Huckabee Post will allow him to reach millions of voters regularly before he’s even jumped into the race.

Ultimately, Chris Christie looks like the odds-on nominee in a very crowded field. As the campaign season moves along, however, we will undoubtedly see many candidates drop off and that could potentially unite more conservative voters behind a single candidate rather than behind three or four.

(Image courtesy of Gage Skidmore)