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Bush Dropped Out. Here's Where His Voters Might Go.

The Huffington Post logo The Huffington Post 21/02/2016 Ariel Edwards-Levy

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's decision Saturday to drop out of the Republican primary frees the 6 percent of support he holds nationally -- not an insignificant amount in a GOP race that remains deeply fragmented.

One theory of this year's election holds that the Republican field is divided between an "establishment lane" and an "outsider lane," with voters gravitating either toward the bloc of traditional politicians like Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, or else to more disruptive figures like Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). That would make Bush's departure a serious boon to the Rubio campaign.

The reality, polling, suggests, is a little more complicated.

Recent NBC/SurveyMonkey polling shows Rubio as the most popular second choice for Bush supporters, but it's far from unanimous. 

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Combined data from the two most recent Economist/YouGov polls show a similarly widespread diaspora, with Kasich taking 17 percent of Bush supporters, Rubio 16 percent, Cruz 11 percent, Carson 10 percent, and the remaining candidates pulling in single-digit levels of support.

Forecasts about Trump's demise tend to rely on the idea that, as some of his rivals drops out, the remaining challengers will consolidate support. While there's still evidence that Trump may have a ceiling to his support, it's not at all clear that he's reached it yet -- or that Rubio will get the boost he's hoping for out of the narrowing field.

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