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RUSH: Let’s get a quick poll review here. First… NBC/Wall Street Journal. Ted Cruz 28, Donald Trump 26. That’s a national poll, not South Carolina-specific, but the poll was taken after the Saturday night debate. Cruz 28, Trump 26, Rubio 17, Kasich 11, Ben Carson 10%, Jeb Bush at 4%. The sample, 400 likely voters. Most polls like this are using a sample of 500 likely voters. But that’s not the way to attack this. It’s an outlier. And by that I mean it’s the only poll that says this. It’s the only poll of all polls and all the iterations of the polls, this is the first of this poll and the only poll among all of them that says this.

So people are saying, “Wait a minute. Did the NBC/Wall Street Journal polling unit,” which is Bill McInturff on the Republican side, “did they happen to really catch the beginning of a wave here? Is it really not an outlier? Is this really true? Is it gonna be confirmed with polls released later in the week? Did they happen to be polling at just the right time to get an accurate representative sample of people in their reaction to the Saturday night debate in South Carolina?”

The other way of going at this is, if you want to believe — and a lot of people do — if you want to believe the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll is right, then you have to believe that all of the others are wrong, including Quinnipiac, including Bloomberg, including Reuters, including Public Policy Polling, including Fox News, all have polls out in the last couple of days. You have to believe that all of those polls are wrong, because all of those polls still have Trump at 32 to 35 to 36. And it’s true, you could accurately say that Trump is not consolidating. We’ve had two candidates leave the race. Chris Christie got out. Carly Fiorina got out.

Now, admittedly we’re not dealing with large numbers of voters here in those cases, but Trump’s support has apparently not grown. And so analysts are happily pointing out, establishment analysts are happily pointing out, “Hey, hey, Trump’s not getting any of these votes from people that have gotten out of the race. None of Carly Fiorina’s supporters are going to Trump. It doesn’t look like Christie’s are. They’re going elsewhere. They’re going Cruz, Rubio.”

So the establishment’s holding out hope here that, if they can just get some people to drop out and make this either Cruz versus Trump or Rubio versus Trump, then Cruz or Rubio could consolidate and get all these other votes, say from Jeb and Kasich and Carson and Rubio or Cruz, depending on which one drops out, then they would be beating Trump. That’s what they’re desperately hoping for, except it isn’t gonna happen any time soon. Kasich isn’t gonna get out and Rubio isn’t gonna get out.

Rubio just got the endorsement from Nikki Haley. That’s another thing. That destroyed Jeb Bush. You could see it in his face. It just destroyed him, and it disappointed Cruz a little bit, too. And when you look at one angle, Sarah Palin, if it weren’t for Sarah Palin, Nikki Haley might not be where she is right now, and Palin of course is in the Trump camp. But Nikki Haley is GOP. The GOP establishment wants Rubio, and so that’s where she went. It’s predictable. I don’t think there was any question that that was gonna happen. There was a lot of hope, but there shouldn’t have been any question.

She was never gonna endorse Cruz, and she’s not gonna endorse Trump. She used her response to the State of the Union to go out and hammer Trump, so you know she wasn’t gonna endorse Trump, and she wasn’t gonna endorse Cruz. She’s an elected Republican governor. There aren’t any mavericks in that group of people. They’re gonna stick with the party. If they don’t, they are putting giant roadblocks in their political future. You become a Republican governor, a high-ranking Republican official, senator, member of the House, you pretty much go with the party. Not in all cases obviously. There is the Tea Party. There is the Conservative Caucus in the House, but people we’re talking about here, they’re gonna do what the party leaders want.

There was no question Nikki Haley was not gonna endorse Trump, and I never thought she was gonna endorse Cruz. To me, it was always a question of Jeb versus Rubio. Then you have to figure there’s no way, I don’t think, she was gonna endorse Jeb because why endorse somebody’s at four points and hasn’t shown the ability to get much higher than that? Nikki Haley’s endorsement’s not gonna save anybody. She couldn’t save Jeb. It’s even questionable whether these kind of endorsements help.

But Rubio is running with it. You know what Rubio’s benefiting from right now? This is a fascinating thing, the way these things all work out. Rubio has yet to win a state, but you wouldn’t know it by watching the coverage. You would not know that Rubio hasn’t won a state. You could — if you’re a columnist, if you’re a conservative blogger — even headline a post, “Isn’t it About Time Rubio Started to Win a State?” to go along with everything going on. (interruption) No, I’m not being critical. Can I not analyze things without people thinking I’m jumping down somebody’s throat?

(interruption) Well, but it happens to be true. I said the same thing once about Michelle Wie, the golfer. (interruption) Well, I did. I caught hell from the young 18- to 24-year-old male golf fan community. She was getting coverage like she’d won the US Open a couple times. It was after a round at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, and somebody ambushed me. Some TV clown shows up after a six-hour round. I’m trundling off the course, a guy jams a microphone and camera in my face and shouts, “What do you think about Michelle Wie?”

I said, “Isn’t it time she started winning a tournament?”

Pshew! That’s all it took. I ended up having to call the family and apologize. It wasn’t an attack. I’m a media analyst, and I am fascinated by how media covers things and what that makes happen, what that makes possible. Anyhow, Bloomberg poll, Fox — I don’t care where you look outside of NBC/Wall Street Journal — You’ve got Trump doubling his next competitor, either Cruz, either Rubio. Now the pope entering the fray here claiming Trump’s not a Christian, throws an entirely new — not a wrench, but it adds a new… Well, that’s a little miniature explosion that people are gonna be running from or talking about. So we will, too.

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