Meet the Press
Jan 26 2016, 9:25 am ET

First Read: Donald Trump Is In Clear Command of the GOP Race

by Chuck Todd, Mark Murray and Carrie Dann

First Read is a morning briefing from Meet the Press and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.

Six days until Iowa, Trump is in clear command of GOP race

These are words that most political observers, including us, didn't think we'd ever write six months ago: Less than a week before Iowa and two weeks before New Hampshire, Donald Trump is in clear control of the GOP presidential contest. If you don't want to take our word for it, just look at the polling out of Iowa, where Trump has topped Ted Cruz in five out of the last six polls, including today's new Quinnipiac survey. Look at the situation in New Hampshire, where he's leading the pack by double digits. And Trump is lapping the GOP field in national polls. Even numbers-cruncher Nate Silver, who had been skeptical about Trump's chances, now gives the real-estate mogul better than a 50% chance of winning Iowa. "Everything's coming up Trump," Silver tweeted. Now it's important to remember: Not a single vote has been cast yet, and a political cycle that has thrown us surprise after surprise could have another in store for us. But what Cruz told a group of Iowa pastors, according to a video obtained by CBN's David Brody, is probably the smart bet: "If Donald wins Iowa there is a very good chance he could be unstoppable and be our nominee."

And the GOP establishment candidates seem stuck in the mud

Six months ago, we also didn't think we'd be writing these words as well: Just days before Iowa, the GOP establishment is stuck in mud. Yes, Marco Rubio remains in the low double digits in all of the polling, but he hasn't budged in months (likely the result of all of the negative TV ads against him). Jeb Bush -- considered the GOP frontrunner a year ago -- is in the low single digits. Chris Christie is struggling to break through (and struggling with questions about his attention to the flooding in New Jersey). Maybe the one establishment candidate who hasn't truly taken it on the chin -- in terms of perception or negative attacks -- is John Kasich. But as with Christie, it's hard to see how Kasich might capitalize on a strong showing in New Hampshire (with the next big contests in South Carolina and the "SEC Primary" states). So just as Trump is in clear command of the GOP race, the establishment candidates are struggling to break through.

Cont. in link about the Democrat race.