National polls show there is still room for movement for GOP

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," December 22, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hillary, that's not a president. She is not taking us -- everything that's been involved in Hillary has been losses. You take a look. Even her race with Obama she got schlonged. She lost. I mean, she lost.

HILLARY CLINTON, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You are looking at somebody who has had a lot of terrible things said about me, and I am well aware of the fact it's really easy to do that. And you just say it and send it around the world. And luckily I'm old enough that it doesn't particularly bother me.


SHANNON BREAM, GUEST ANCHOR: We are back with our panel. And we're talking about the two frontrunners currently in the 2016 race. Of course, Donald Trump in the newest Quinnipiac poll today stands atop the field at 28 percent. But Cruz is closing in at 24 percent, followed further down by Rubio and Carson in double digits. So, Charles, do you want to take a stab at that first?
Choose your words carefully.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Yes, I know. I know I'm the ethnic expert on that word, but I will eschew the opportunity to comment on that cultural appropriation of the vulgar yiddishism, except to say I have heard it in other contexts, but almost always in schoolyards. I have never heard it in a presidential campaign. But that's Donald Trump for you.

Look, can anybody predict what affect it's going to have on his numbers? No, except that it will likely have a positive effect. You never know. But if the Quinnipiac poll is not an outlier, it shows that his numbers come back to where he had been, high 20s and Cruz on his tail.
And I think it looks on -- Trump himself said earlier, I think it was yesterday, that it looks like it could be a two-man race. I think the other possibilities, outsiders, are Rubio, maybe Christie. But if that's what it comes down to, I don't think anybody has it wrapped up.

BREAM: Yes. I mean, there seems like there is a lot of room for movement here because if you look at the candidate of choice poll that we have also from Quinnipiac, whether folks have made up their mind or they might change, there is a lot of potential movement there because 63 percent of Trump's followers say they have made up their mind but 36 percent say they could change, and the reverse is true for Cruz. So there is still, Ron, a lot of movement there weeks out from the first official vote.

RON FOURNIER, NATIONAL JOURNAL: We have no idea who is going to the win the nomination. We have no idea who is going to be the president. But we do know the impact Donald Trump has already had on this race. We all worry about the coarsening of our culture, something we talk about with our kids and talk about with our family and talk about with our colleagues. We know that the culture is getting coarsening in a way that is really undermining society.

And here we have a guy who is talking about using that kind of a language with a presidential candidate, who talks about Mexicans in a very disparaging way, who is now putting into the public sphere the kind of language and the kind of thoughts that we kept to ourselves if we had them at all. And if nothing else, win or lose, that is the very detrimental, grim legacy that he is leaving in this campaign.

BAIER: George, others will say that it's drawing people in, his passion and his excitement and these crowds drawing people in who weren't into politics before. We hear the anecdotal stories people wills say, my neighbor is now involved or my parents are now involved because they like Trump so much and they want to get involved. They are kind of swept up.

GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Let's see if they are actually in politics. Let's see if they actually show up in the Iowa caucuses at night in a church basement and do all the things they have to do. I'm skeptical.

What I liked about the Quinnipiac poll that struck me as interesting is between them Cruz and Trump have 52 percent right now. The standard narrative has been that there would a conservative Tea Party type insurgent and the establishment type. Neither Cruz nor Trump qualifies as an establishment type. I don't want to libel poor Marco Rubio by calling him that, but he is as close as they come, and he is at 12 percent.

So they are running very different kinds of campaigns. Cruz is running a very granular, on the ground, 17 counties in Nevada, 17 county chairmen, 99 in Iowa, same thing. Trump is surfing on a wave of free media. And Marco Rubio is campaigning largely through this news channel here. I think I saw three of his PAC commercials on this today when he announced his candidacy, I believe it was at 6 p.m. Eastern Time, and it was carried by "Special Report." So they know how to reach the core of the Republican nominating electorate right through this channel, and we're going to see whether it works with Trump or with Rubio, or whether you still have to do the more granular politics that Cruz is trying.

KRAUTHAMMER: There is one number here that strikes me. You ask the supporters of Trump and Cruz is your mind made up? There is a huge difference. With Trump it's 63 percent, with Cruz 36. That means two thirds of Trump support is fixed. I think he is the only Republican candidate of whom you can say he has followers, not supporters. I can't see people saying that George -- that Jeb Bush has followers. He has followers. He has a constituency that I think is not going to leave him.
That means if he is at 27 percent, two thirds are made up. He has a fixed constituency of 18 percent, which is, you know, that's a hell of a floor.
Nobody is anywhere near that. So he is going to be a factor one way or the other.

But, the fact that the vote is split, and there is about 80 percent of the vote, 70 percent of the vote that is non-Trump, means that the idea that he is going to sweep in I think is a little bit premature.

BREAM: Well, let's look really quickly at the head-to-head general election matchup, too, because in this poll Clinton beats Trump by seven percent. I think Rubio and Cruz were a little bit closer, but she is still doing well head to head, Ron.

FOURNIER: Again, I'm not going to predict who is going to win this thing, but there's no doubt that Donald Trump would be the easiest candidate for her to run against. Just look at the numbers. His disapproval rating is much higher than even hers in the general electorate.

And I think we are making a good point here with Trump. If you are going to run that free media kind of campaign, the hardest place to do it is in Iowa where do you have to get people to come out on a cold Sunday, stand in a community center or church basement.

BREAM: For hours.

FOURNIER: And announce out loud your vote and then defend it. New Hampshire, the next race is really informed by Iowa. So it's not until you get to South Carolina where you get a really clean hit for Trump. So there is a long way to go here yet.

BREAM: There is. We will watch every twist and turn. Thank you, panel.

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