Why GOP presidential candidates face a tough 2016 primary

With the Bridgegate scandal sinking Chris Christie’s standings in public opinion polls, none of the possible GOP presidential candidates is currently polling above 15 percent with GOP voters. Nate Silver found this to be historically unprecedented:

How rare is such an evenly divided field? I checked polling since 1976, the first year in which both the Republican and Democratic nominations were decided completely by voters and not by party leaders.

It’s rare.

In surveys conducted from January through March of the preceding midterm election year (so for the 2012 election, we’re looking at polls from Jan. 1 through March 31 of 2010), the Republican atop the polls has always averaged at least 23 percent of the vote.

But not this year. Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas and a presidential aspirant in 2008, leads current polling with 14.8 percent. Even if we include Democratic nomination contests, 14.8 percent basically ties for the lowest leader on record (right near the 15 percent Mario Cuomo had in 1992).