While Ben Carson and Donald Trump lead the Republican polls, even more people expect them to win the next debate. That's setting the bar high for two outsiders who have already defied conventional logic by maintaining their positions this long.
Think about that: Not only do Trump and Carson hold a commanding lead among polled respondents, but even the people who don't support them think that Trump and Carson will win the next debate. That's a big sigh of defeatism from supporters of other candidates.
The candidate with the dimmest debate prospects: Jeb Bush. His past debate performances and "low energy" attacks from Trump have damaged his standing. Bush has the biggest negative difference in overall support compared to expected debate outcome. That means Bush's own supporters think he is going to lose the next debate. It's even worse than that — people who are currently undecided among candidates also think Bush is going to lose.
It's a bad sign when the people who haven't even picked sides expect so little from you. Yet it may be part of the Bush family playbook. His brother George W. Bush used low debate expectations to later surprise the public when he was able to hang in there with a decent outcome, making him seem much better than people thought originally.
While Carly Fiorina had a quick rise after her two great debate efforts, that shine may have rubbed off. She has slightly higher expected debate outperformance compared with her usual support — but nowhere close to Trump's and Carson's levels.
But the high expectations for Trump and Carson could hurt them if they don't perform to such lofty predictions.
Fiorina's record as a business leader has not sold the public either. Most people don't know enough of her record to have an opinion: Sixty percent of respondents aren't sure what to make of the former Hewlett-Packard CEO. Of the ones who do have a view, the positive skew is barely there: 21 percent to 18 percent.
Contrast that with Trump. More than 70 percent of people do have a view on his business record, and it's overwhelmingly positive, by a 2-1 ratio. Forty-six percent positive, 24 percent negative. With only 29 percent not sure.
In fact, the 46 percent of people who view Trump's business record as a positive is an even bigger number than his poll support — or his debate expectations.
The data suggest his candidacy might have plenty of legs left, with people actually seeing him as a true business leader, as opposed to Fiorina whom they are wholly unsure about. In the past few days, an interesting trend developed: As people learned more about Fiorina, they almost always said their view of her business record was negative. She looked much better as a candidate a couple weeks ago than she does now.
The data come from Fluent, a leading consumer marketing and advertising technology firm, working with many clients including political campaign marketers. Its Political Pulse product is a realtime index, a new approach in polling that has mattered more in this election after notable huge misses by the traditional polling firms.
Fluent's data saw the early rise of Trump and Carson, before the mainstream polls did. Fluent uses the information so candidates can better reach the right type of people, allowing for direct responses to the ads, like signing up for a mailing list.
"Campaigns are trying to get voters to sign up for their email lists," said Jordan Cohen, chief marketing officer of Fluent. "The role of email is very important early in the campaign cycle, primarily to drive donations. Then they use that money to staff up and pay for very expensive TV commercials."
An analysis by CNBC shows that Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Marco Rubio are among the most active campaigns running direct response ads.
Watch CNBC's "Your Money, Your Vote: The Republican Presidential Debate" on Wednesday, October 28. The debate will feature two sets of candidates discussing critical issues facing America today, including job growth, taxes and the health of our economy. Coverage begins at 5 pm E.T.