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Presidential Prognostication: Check Out Who's Leading in the Polls This Week

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There are many different tools political experts use to predict the outcome of an election, but none are used as frequently as polls.

But you cannot look at a single poll as an accurate predictor of any election. Frequently, observers will look at many different polls taken over the course of short period of time, combined with physical observations of what is actually happening on the ground to make their predictions.

Some people, however, just like to look at numbers. Either way, we're sure these numbers will give you plenty to talk about with your fellow political junkies.

Iowa

The Hawkeye State gets the first crack at the presidential candidates but, until this week, has been polled relatively infrequently compared to previous presidential election cycles. With only four polls to pick from that are within the preferred 30-day window, here's what the current polling averages look like:

1. Donald Trump 26.75

2. Ted Cruz 22.00

3. Ben Carson 16.50

4. Marco Rubio 13.00

5. Jeb Bush 4.75

6. Rand Paul 3.50

7. Carly Fiorina 3.25

8. Chris Christie 2.00

9. Mike Huckabee 1.75

10-t. John Kasich 1.50

10-t. Rick Santorum 1.50

12-t. Lindsey Graham 0.00

12-t. George Pataki 0.00

Trump has held steady in Iowa since early summer, and shows no signs of coming back down. Carson, however, has begun to move sharply downward. His trend line will become much sharper in the coming weeks.

Cruz has soared in recent weeks, and began picking up momentum last month with the endorsement of U.S. Rep. Steve King, who represents the northwest quadrant of the state. King's district is oftentimes key to statewide conservative efforts.

Rubio moved upward slightly last month, but has since held steady in the 11- to 13-percent range. Combined, the remaining nine candidates are averaging 18.25 percent in the polls.

New Hampshire

In the first primary state, the politics lean a little more toward an establishment candidate, not grass-roots Christian conservatives. One could argue that is why so many of the polls released of late have come out of the Granite State. Based on seven polls conducted over the past 30 days, here are the current averages:

1. Donald Trump 27.43

2. Marco Rubio 12.14

3. Ted Cruz 9.86

4. Ben Carson 9.00

5. Jeb Bush 7.29

6. John Kasich 7.29

7. Chris Christie 6.86

8. Carly Fiorina 4.57

9. Rand Paul 4.00

10. Mike Huckabee 1.00

11. Lindsey Graham 0.71

12. Rick Santorum 0.57

13. George Pataki 0.29

Like in Iowa, Trump has remained relatively steady in the upper-20s since early summer. He currently has more than double the support of Rubio, who is in second place.

Rubio holds a slim 2-point lead over Cruz, who is in third. But third through seventh is separated by 3 points. Traditionally, there is some jockeying that happens in the few days between the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire Primary Election.

Each of the top 10 candidates currently has a legitimate shot at securing at least one delegate for the Republican National Convention. This is perhaps the biggest reason why none of the remaining candidates have felt pressure to drop out.

South Carolina

Like Iowa, South Carolina tends to be more open to Christian conservative candidates. Again, one could make that's why there have been only three polls conducted there in the past 30 days. Here are the current averages:

1. Donald Trump 29.00

2. Ben Carson 22.67

3. Marco Rubio 13.33

4. Ted Cruz 12.33

5. Jeb Bush 6.67

6. Carly Fiorina 3.00

7-t. John Kasich 2.00

7-t. Mike Huckabee 2.00

7-t. Lindsey Graham 2.00

10. Rand Paul 1.33

11. Chris Christie 1.00

12. Rick Santorum 0.67

13. George Pataki 0.00

It may sound like a broken record, but Trump has been holding steady—and leading—in South Carolina since early summer. Unlike in the other early voting states, Carson has also held steady there over the same time frame.

In the past couple months, Cruz and Rubio have emerged as the other half of the "final four" in South Carolina. Bush trails Cruz for fourth by nearly 6 points, and the combined support for the bottom nine candidates is only 18.67 percent.

Combined Average

Taking the combined averages of the first three early voting states, a clear stratification of the field emerges:

1. Donald Trump 27.57

2. Ben Carson 14.07

3. Ted Cruz 13.86

4. Marco Rubio 12.64

5. Jeb Bush 6.43

6. John Kasich 4.50

7. Chris Christie 4.21

8. Carly Fiorina 3.86

9. Rand Paul 3.29

10. Mike Huckabee 1.43

11. Rick Santorum 0.86

12. Lindsey Graham 0.79

13. George Pataki 0.14

National

During the early debates, several candidates complained about the use of national polls, rather than early voting state polling, to determine placement in the debates. But there is little difference between the combined average of the early voting states and the 30-day national polling averages:

1. Donald Trump 28.38

2. Ben Carson 16.75

3. Marco Rubio 13.63

4. Ted Cruz 13.38

5. Jeb Bush 4.63

6. Carly Fiorina 3.00

7. Chris Christie 2.75

8-t. John Kasich 2.38

8-t. Mike Huckabee 2.38

10. Rand Paul 2.13

11-t. Rick Santorum 0.38

11-t. Lindsey Graham 0.38

11-t. George Pataki 0.38

Trump and Carson have been in their current positions since early summer but have been moving in opposite directions in recent weeks. Trump is moving upward slightly, while Carson is moving downward and slightly sharper trajectory.

Rubio and Cruz sat in the middle of the field for much of the summer, but have been making steady upward movement the past six weeks. The rest of the field combines for just 18.38 percent.

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