As mentioned in the Morning Links today, Donald Trump today became the first GOP presidential candidate to shoot northward of 30 percent in national polling. Trump has been leading the field since mid-July, which feels like forever, but isn't even close to being the longest front-running stretch during this campaign: Marco Rubio holds that honor, with almost a half year in the top slot from late 2013 to year through May 2014.
In fairness, that Marcomentum encompassed only six consecutive polls, compared to Trump's 19, and his lead averaged five percentage points, while Trump has been above +10 for all but one national poll since August. But the point is, polls are really fun and weird to look at. Hell, Rand Paul held at least a share of the lead for two months straight as recently as last June.
Here, for your amusesment (and/or self-abuse) is a chronological list of GOP front-runners (excluding ties) this campaign since the first PPP poll way back in December 2013: Rubio, Christie, Paul, Christie, Cruz, Paul, Christie, Paul, Bush, Huckabee, Paul, Huckabee, Christie, Paul, Christie, Bush, Walker, Bush, Huckabee, Walker, Bush, Walker, Bush, Walker, Bush, Rubio, Bush, Walker, Rubio, Carson, Bush, Trump.
Where were we this time last cycle? Rick Perry was nearing the end of a six-week, 17-poll run in the top slot, during which time he averaged 29 percent support and a 10-point lead. In 2008, Rudolf Guiliani was in the middle of a four-and-a-half month stretch, encompassing 40 or so polls, in which he led in all but three. (Hizzoner dominated polling from October 2006 through mid-December 2007, then faltered.)
So there is precedent for the Trump balloon popping. What we haven't seen recently, however, is this much sustained polling success from a total political outsider. In fact, when you add Trump's support to Ben Carson's in this latest CNN poll, you get a stunning 51 percent. That's half of likely Republican voters pledging their affections to semi-recent Democrats who have never run for political office and who tend to say crazy things.
Here's the combined Trump-Carson number since May, averaged out by month. For a control group, I'll add up the "Establishment" troika of Jeb! Bush, Marco Rubio, and Scott Walker:
May: T/C 13%, E 35%
June: T/C 16%, E 35%
July: T/C 26%, E 32%
Aug.: T/C 33%, E 25%
Sept.: T/C 50%, E 17%
Those are staggering numbers. It's no wonder the political class looks a bit shell-shocked these days.