Donald Trump Is Definitely Losing To Ben Carson In Iowa Now
Another batch of polls confirms that Donald Trump has fallen from the top in the Hawkeye State.
A handful of new polls confirms the news that we got late last week that Donald Trump has slipped significant among Republicans in Iowa, and that Ben Carson is now the frontrunner in the Hawkeye State:
Over the weekend, Donald Trump dismissed two new polls showing him trailing Ben Carson in Iowa. “”I don’t believe those polls, by the way,” he said, “because both of those pollsters don’t like me.” The pollsters being referred to were Quinnipiac University and Des Moines’ Selzer & Co. — both of which showed Trump in the lead without Trump raising any objections.
On Monday, two more polls offered the same result: Trump is trailing Carson in Iowa, by a wide margin.
The most prominent comes from Monmouth University, which shows Carson up by 14 points. What’s more, Carson is also the second choice of nearly a fifth of Republicans, compared to only 12 percent that have Trump as a back-up.
Of the last five polls conducted in Iowa, including a Loras College survey also released Monday, Trump trails in four. In only one is he tied with Carson.
The difference in that one, by the way, is that it’s an online poll. As we noted earlier this month, Trump usually does better in online polls than in live-dial polls. Carson does worse.
Since the last time Monmouth polled in the state, the percentage of voters viewing Trump unfavorably has increased by five percentage points. He’s still viewed much less favorably than Carson — but more favorably than Jeb Bush, despite Bush bouncing back a bit.
As noted, the one poll out of Iowa that didn’t show Trump losing to Carson comes from CBS News and YouGov, which released a poll over the weekend showing the two men tied at 27%, with Ted Cruz in third place at 12% and nobody else in double digits. It’s also true that this poll, like all of YouGov’s polling is an online poll that is supposedly conducted in a scientific manner that is designed to replicate phone polling while at the same time preventing the kind of self-selection and double voting that is quite common for the online “flash” polls that one typically sees on news and other websites. The fact that RealClearPolitics includes it in the calculation of their poll average suggests that there’s at least some reason to take the numbers seriously, but I tend to remain skeptical of these online polls and the fact that it is the one poll out of five conducted over the past week that doesn’t show Trump slipping significantly suggests that the YouGov poll should be discounted and that Trump is indeed slipping in the polls in the state that will be the first contest of the 2016 primary season. This becomes more apparently when you look at the poll averages. Trump (20.6%) is now trailing Carson (29.2%) by nearly nine points in the RealClearPolitics average, and by more than nine points in the somewhat more broadly based Pollster average.
The news that Trump is slipping anywhere, of course, is seen in political pundit circles as a big deal that could lead to problems for him elsewhere as we go forward, but there are several caveats to keep in mind before jumping in with both feet on another “end of Trump” narrative. First of all, it has always been the case that Iowa was a state where it seemed odd that Trump was running such a strong lead to begin with. By a wide margin, the Republican electorate there is far more religiously conservative than any of the other early primary states, and the fact that the state uses a caucus rather than primary means that small groups of dedicated supporters can make it appear that a candidate has broader support than he or she might if a primary was held. Whatever else you might say about him, Trump is not the kind of candidate that evangelical and religious voters typically rally around, whereas Ben Carson fits that mold quite well just as 2008 Iowa Caucus winner Mike Huckabee and 2012 winner Rick Santorum did. Given that, it’s not entirely surprising to see Iowa Republicans drawn to him. Additionally, Trump’s slip in Iowa may at least in part be attributable to a $1,000,000 ad buy from the Club for Growth that was almost exclusively that was almost exclusively aimed at Trump. Finally, it’s worth noting that Trump remains far ahead in New Hampshire and South Carolina, and nationally, although the only recent polling in those states has been the aforementioned CBS/YouGov poll. If we start seeing signs of Trump slipping in places other than Iowa, then it will be something worth paying attention to.
The interesting question going forward, of course, will be how Trump reacts as his poll numbers start slipping. Virtually from the start of his campaign, Trump has seen his numbers rise steadily, and that fact has been a central part of his campaign message and something he repeats quite often at campaign rallies. Even though it’s currently only limited to Iowa, that’s not the case anymore. Initially, Trump seems to be largely dismissing the numbers out of Iowa, although it’s going to be harder to do that if they continue if it spreads to other states. In general, though, he has dismissed the dip in the polls by attacking outlets like The Des Moines Register, and at one point Retweeting a comment that was somewhat insulting toward Iowa voters. He’s also stepped up his attacks on Ben Carson, who he had largely been leaving his hands off of lately, by calling him “super low energy” and raising questions about his faith as a member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church. This new polling era should make Wednesday’s debate in Colorado on CNBC interesting to say the very least. Being the hyper-competitive person that he is, Trump can’t like the idea that he’s falling in the polls, so if it continues he’s likely to lash out more than he already has.