The latest on the presidential horse race.

Mike Huckabee Emerges as Republican Frontrunner

McClatchy/Marist, 2/4-2/9

  • Huckabee: 13
  • Christie: 13
  • Rubio: 12
  • Ryan: 9
  • Paul: 9
  • Bush: 8
  • Walker: 7
  • Cruz: 5

Since the beginning of this year, we have seen two major changes in the Republican primary race. First, Chris Christie’s campaign is very much on the slide and has opened the door for a new candidate to emerge as the pack leader. Second, Mick Huckabee has been included in the Republican polls and has now finished first in three straight.

According to a new McClatchy/Marist poll, conducted between February 4 and February 9, sampling 403 registered Republicans, former Arkansas Governor leads the Republican nomination race with 13 percent of the vote. A PPP poll and CNN poll conducted over the last couple of weeks also found Huck as the leader in the race.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie also received 13 percent but the two have clearly different stories. While Huckabee is very much on the rise and emerging as a legitimate threat to capture the nomination, Christie’s numbers have slid consistently since November and the second-term governor is going to be embroiled in a federal investigation for a while.

Another candidate who looked to be a non-factor but is once again emerging as a potential nominee is Florida Senator Marco Rubio. When polling first started in early 2013, Rubio had led most of the polls with close to 20 percent of the vote. He had since fallen to single digits but finished third in this latest poll with 12 percent. He has now seen double-digit support in three of the last four national polls and is showing signs of life once again.

Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan is seeing the opposite trend, falling from double-digits into the single-digits. After seeing a consistent 11-13 percent for most of 2013, Ryan finished fourth in this poll with 9 percent of the vote and has now seen single-digit support in three straight polls. Those three are also the ones that have included Mike Huckabee. Without Huck in the race, Ryan’s numbers are much better.

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul also received 9 percent in the poll but has been polling at 11-14 percent consistently since the fall so it’s fairly unlikely that he has actually fallen off.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush received just 8 percent of the vote and has seen some of the most inconsistent polling numbers of any candidate. In six polls conducted in 2014, Bush has received 8 percent, 11 percent, 18 percent, 14 percent, 9 percent, and 8 percent. That also has a lot to do with whether Huckabee and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker are included in the poll. Walker finished right behind Bush with 7 percent, by far his best result since polling began.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz finished dead last with 5 percent of the vote, his worst showing since polling began.