After a new NBC/WSJ poll released yesterday showed Ted Cruz and Donald Trump running neck and neck in the national race for the GOP nomination, the Cruz campaign celebrated and pundits’ immediately began chattering about what this meant for Trump.
Not so fast.
Two other national polls in roughly the same time frame show Trump maintaining his double-digit lead, which is in line with dozens of other national polls over the last two months.
“I think it’s an outlier,” said ABC News analyst Matt Dowd on “Good Morning America” this morning. “Maybe it's a scientist that discovered a new planet when everybody else thinks there's stuff on the camera lens,” Dowd added in as an analogy.
The NBC/WSJ poll showed Ted Cruz with 28 percent support and Donald Trump with 26 percent support, his lowest backing nationally since late December and his first time not numerically ahead since Nov. 9.
“For the first time in many months, there’s a new national front-runner on the Republican side,” Cruz boasted at a rally.
But a CBS poll released this morning showed Trump leading Cruz, 35 percent vs. 18 percent. And a Quinnipiac national poll out yesterday showed Trump leading Cruz 39 percent vs. 18 percent nationally.
“I think what's going to happen is we'll see new polls that basically show Donald Trump with the same lead we thought he had,” Dowd said.
Trump also made clear that he wasn’t a fan of the NBC/WSJ poll, calling it “phony.”
New CBS National Poll just out - massive lead for Trump. The Wall Street Journal/NBC Poll is a total joke. No wonder WSJ is doing so badly!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 18, 2016
Republican pollster Bill McInturff, who ran the survey with Democratic pollster Peter Hart and his firm Hart Research Associates, told NBC News that, "When you see a number this different, it means you might be right on top of a shift in the campaign.”“What you don't know yet is if the change is going to take place or if it is a momentary 'pause' before the numbers snap back into place,” McInturff added.
Trump also leads by wide margins in recent polling in South Carolina, the crucial third contest of the GOP nominating process.