We have our first look at the state of the 2016 Republican presidential race after the third debate, thanks to a new poll from Monmouth University. It only shows where things stand in the New Hampshire primary, but it still shows something we might have expected to see: Marco Rubio has jumped into third place.
The poll was conducted from Oct. 29 to Nov. 1 -- which is to say, from the third debate until Sunday. Since the last time Monmouth polled, in September, Rubio has seen a gain of nine points in the state. What's more, he's now one of the two most-favorably viewed Republicans, with a net favorability -- that is, those who view him favorably minus those who don't -- just two points shy of Ben Carson's. (Carson has consistently led the field on favorability.)
This is not only about the debate, though. The last Monmouth poll also coincided with Rubio's worst position in the polls, as The Post's polling guru Scott Clement pointed out. He'd already gained six points since mid-September in the Real Clear Politics polling average in the state.
That's additional good news for the Rubio camp, since it suggests that the senator was building momentum even before his good performance.
What's more, Rubio and Carson are much more likely to be the second choices of voters -- an important consideration assuming the field of 15 ever gets any smaller. (We have to assume it will? But who knows.) Combining first and second choices, Donald Trump, Rubio and Carson form a top tier of candidates in the state, each getting more than 25 percent combined support.
For Jeb Bush and Chris Christie, both of whom would need to do well in the state if there's any hope of securing the nomination, one bit of good news: Both candidates have seen improvements in their net favorabilities since the September poll. Christie saw a small bump in his poll numbers, and Bush didn't drop at all -- which is about the best news each of them might have hoped to see. (The margins of error here make those figures mean a bit less than they otherwise might.)
But then the bad news for them: Bush and Christie are hoping to be the go-to candidates for the more moderate wing of the Republican Party -- putting them to some extent in the same lane as the improving Marco Rubio.