All eyes are on the Republican nomination contest right now for good reasons: There are a record number of candidates and Donald Trump is starting a dumpster fire every few days. Despite that, however, it’s worth considering how a general election scenario might play out for the GOP candidates as they are likely to face former secretary of state and senator Hillary Clinton.
If you ask the average Republican voter who could win, it appears that more than a significant majority believe Donald Trump is the person for the job. In a just-released Quinnipiac poll, 73 percent of Republican respondents said that the New York billionaire had a “good chance” of victory. This squares with a poll conducted in October for the Associated Press where 70 percent of respondents believed Trump was up to the task.
By comparison, about 60 percent said that for Ben Carson in the AP survey. About the same number said they believed that Jeb Bush could win. Slightly fewer, 54 percent said that about Rubio. A survey conducted in late October for the Wall Street Journal and NBC News found that 32 percent of respondents believed that Trump had the “best chance to win,” 25 percent thought so about Carson, while 12 percent thought so of Rubio.
How strong of a candidate would Hillary Clinton be against potential rivals? The early polling suggests–contrary to Weekly Standard editor William Kristol’s belief that “Hillary is even weaker than people realize”–that she seems to do rather well.
In general election polling, Clinton performs very strongly against Trump. The New York billionaire tops her in only two polls conducted since October, both of which were conducted by Fox News and one of which literally showed six GOP candidates topping her, including the little-supported Chris Christie.
There hasn’t been as much polling done of a Clinton versus Cruz matchup but she still comes out ahead in literally every poll but two, including the outlier poll mentioned earlier.
One Republican who has consistently beaten Clinton in recent polls is Marco Rubio who is now ahead of the former secretary of state by 3 points when the three most recent surveys are averaged together. The Florida senator seems to have surpassed retired surgeon Ben Carson in performing the best in hypothetical matchups. After besting Clinton in several different polls conducted in September and October, he has trailed her in every survey since except for that fluke FNC poll mentioned mentioned earlier.
Who do Democrats think would be most challenging Republican nominee? Donald Trump. At least if you believe an early November poll conducted by CBS News and the New York Times which found that 31 percent of Democratic primary voters believed that the first-time candidate Trump would present the most difficulty for their party to defeat. Ben Carson was a distant second with 15 percent while Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush finished with 13 percent each.
While all of these general election surveys are interesting, that vote is nearly a year away and a lot could change, especially if a lesser-known Republican like Cruz or Rubio were to get the nomination. Perhaps more intriguing is the opinion of the people who bet actual money on the presidential race by trading stock shares. Among this probably more savvy crowd, Hillary Clinton is given a 57 percent chance of winning the presidency while her party is given a 58 percent chance of taking the prize. While Trump is judged by the public to be the Republican with the best shot at the presidency, oddsmakers give Marco Rubio an 18 percent chance and Donald Trump 8 percent. No one else has more than 5 percent.
A lot could change between now and next November but with odds like that, the GOP has its work cut out.
A writer, television producer, and cybersecurity consultant, Matthew Sheffield is a Bold contributor. He currently is a producer and reporter at The Hill's video division, Hill.TV.