Hidden in a new NBC News/Marist poll on Chris Christie are some pretty bleak numbers for Sen. Ted Cruz.
The poll asked Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who, if they were voting today, they’d support in a 2016 GOP presidential primary. Christie came in first with 16 percent support, followed by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. (12 percent), Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. (9 percent), former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (8 percent), and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. (7 percent).
You’ll notice Cruz — who was in the top five in distant December, 2013 — is missing from that list. That’s because the Texas Republican, who briefly led the GOP pack in at least one poll following his 21-hour September Senate floor speech, dropped from 10 percent support in December to 5 percent support in January. If Chris Christie doesn’t run, Ted Cruz is still not a top five choice, being beat out by the likes of Rick Santorum. The poll does have a 5 percent margin of error among Republican voters though, so good news for Cruz is, he could really be back up at 10. Or, you know, all the way down to zero.
This bears repeating: 2016 polls so far out are really, really silly for trying to get a good sense of who is going to win come Election Day. In the NBC News/Marist poll, a quarter of GOP voters are undecided. But these new numbers do show just how fleeting political crushes can be.
Definitely don’t bet against Cruz regaining some of that fall 2013 fire ahead of a possible presidential campaign. But right now, he seems to be drifting away from the radar.