Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and Marco Rubio left Iowa as the leaders of the GOP field heading into today’s primary in the Granite State. To keep and expand their leads, each candidate will be competing for key segments of the GOP electorate, and looking to bring over supporters from the other candidate’s camps.
We stacked them up against each other to help visualize this competition.
Rubio – Trump Matchup
Rubio would take the Pragmatic Republicans and Uncommitted Conservatives in a Rubio – Trump matchup. While this is not enough to secure the lead ideologically, looking at where candidate’s supporters land here is critical. Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, John Kasich and Carly Fiorina voters go to Rubio. Rubio also picks up a share of the Cruz ideological voters from Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum supporters.
Trump is seeing the bulk of his support coming from the Hardcore Conservatives and Traditional GOP Voters and he overwhelmingly holds the Fed Up Republicans. The Fed Up Republicans are the smallest group in the electorate and the highest turnout. This group helps Trump keep the lead, and anyone who defects from this group early on is most likely to end up with Rubio or Cruz.
Cruz – Trump Matchup
Cruz has to convert Hardcore Conservatives, Uncommitted Conservatives and some of the Traditional GOP Voters to hang onto the lead, which would give him control of 40 percent or more of the electorate. Cruz is vying for supporters from the recently suspended campaigns of Rand Paul, Huckabee and Santorum while also looking to gain traction with soft Ben Carson, Fiorina and Bush supporters. Trump will need to keep his critical group of Fed Up voters and continue to win over Traditional GOP Voters to pull in front of the other candidates. It’s likely the Pragmatic Republicans in this case – who are looking for a candidate to compromise and get things done – would split to Trump given that these voters are not ideologically driven. Voters considering Jim Gilmore, Kasich and Christie land with Team Trump in this matchup, but he will have a harder time winning the remaining candidate’s supporters as they break toward Cruz.
Cruz – Rubio Matchup
A good group of the electorate is already for or leaning toward Rubio, but he also has the most candidates competing for the same types of voters in this space. He needs to secure Pragmatic Republicans, and the bulk of the share of Uncommitted Conservatives and Traditional GOP Voters edging out Bush, Kasich, Christie, Fiorina and Gilmore. In this scenario, Cruz and Rubio split the Fed Up Republicans, but a larger share goes to Cruz. Cruz continues to win with the Hardcore Conservatives and takes a large percentage of the Uncommitted Conservatives and Traditional GOP Voters. In addition to gaining past Huckabee, Paul and Santorum supporters, Cruz needs to turn Carson and Fiorina supporters to keep a lead here.
GOP candidates looking for a bump today, in South Carolina and beyond, have these things to consider while moving forward in their campaigns.