Seventy-one days ago, the national Republican front-runner was ... Donald Trump, who led by 13.8 points in the Real Clear Politics polling average. Seventy-one days before that, though, the front-runner was Jeb Bush. If you add Bush's national polling average to that of the second-place candidate, Ben Carson, Trump would still be winning by two points.
This is something of a reversal. Here's the long-term trend of Trump's lead in both states and nationally.
We've added the four debates there, as dashed lines. And then there's Paris. Trump's new spike occurred after the attacks in the French capital a little over a week ago.
In the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll, Trump leads among most demographic groups. He leads with men by 10 points, with women by 11. He leads among the "very conservative" by one point (within the margin of error) but among moderates by 16. He leads among those with a college degree by two and among those without one by 14. (Among whites without a college degree, he's up 21 points.) The only group among which he trails is evangelicals, with Carson up 6 points.
Part of that is certainly that Carson has plummeted. Since the day before the Paris terrorist attacks, Carson's polling average has fallen nearly five points, from 24.4 to 19.8. Trump has risen about 3 points, from 24.8 to 27.5.
It's hard not to think that Trump's hard line on everything has benefited him since the attacks in Paris. In the Post/ABC poll, white non-college graduates — one of the groups among which Trump does the best — were 38 points more likely to say that they opposed resettling Syrian refugees in the United States. Among those who say they favor deporting undocumented immigrants, Trump leads by 25. Trump has spent the past week embroiled in a very public conversation about just how far he wants to go in cracking down on refugees, immigrants and terrorists — which is not likely to hurt him with his core base of support. As we noted last week, foreign policy was a noted point of weakness for Carson even before the attacks.
Trump's rhetoric about the attacks in Paris has been ... energetic. But they probably helped him by knee-capping his main opponent and propelling him forward.
With only 71 days to go.