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.

Ben Carson Donald Trump

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 Registerand 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.

FILED UNDER: 2016 Election, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. DrDaveT says:

    We are definitely approaching Silly Party territory, both in candidates and in coverage.

  2. gVOR08 says:

    Bwahahahahahahahahaha, wheeze, cough, pant, ahh, ahh, bwahahahahahahahahahaha.

  3. grumpy realist says:

    Oh Boy! Popcorn?

    (Settles down to watching The Donald try to figure out how to attack Carson without insults or pissing off Iowans.)

  4. Steve V says:

    This is pretty meaningless, isn’t it? I mean, as you point out, Iowa is the state that the person who definitely will *not* win the nomination wins (Huckabee, Santorum). And it also goes to the candidate who can best game the caucus process. Are Trump or Carson even putting that kind of operation together?

  5. stonetools says:

    My prediction-Carson takes Iowa, loses badly to Trump in NH, then Trump narrowly takes South Carolina. After that, It’s really anyone’s guess as to where this crazy race goes.
    I would say that JEB?! and Cruz would be well placed to challenge Trump as the race turns South, but honestly, I have absolutely no clue as to who will win the Republican nomination , a little over two months before the first primary , and I don’t think that anyone else knows either. I don’t think that has been the case for a long time.

  6. gVOR08 says:

    @Steve V: I’ve seen reporting that Carson has very good grass roots organization in IA, largely based on preexisting evangelical home schooler networks. I expect they’re enthusiastically gaming away.

  7. grumpy realist says:

    Isn’t Ben Carson the guy wondering why the guys at Pompeii didn’t outrun the volcano?

    (Look up pyroclastic ash flows, you idiot:

    A pyroclastic flow (also known scientifically as a pyroclastic density current) is a fast-moving current of hot gas and rock (collectively known as tephra), which reaches speeds moving away from a volcano of up to 700 km/h (450 mph). The gas can reach temperatures of about 1,000 °C (1,830 °F). )

    Yeah, we’re not talking about someone all that intelligent, are we?

  8. J-Dub says:

    @grumpy realist: I think the article claiming Carson said that about Pompeii was a spoof.

  9. James Pearce says:

    If you think Ben Carson can clean Trump’s clock….you might be a right-wing Iowa voter.

  10. gVOR08 says:

    @J-Dub: I thought he wanted you to run toward the danger?

  11. stonetools says:


    Frankly, given all the crazy stuff he says, it’s hard to tell what’s a spoof.

  12. DrDaveT says:


    I thought he wanted you to run toward the danger?

    I thought he pointed at Herculaneum, and told the volcano “I think that’s the town you want.”

  13. J-Dub says:

    @stonetools: True, I totally believed it at first, even after reading the article in question. I think the writer is just not good at writing Onion-type spoofs. He made it too believable, which isn’t hard considering some of Carson’s actual musings.

  14. Pinky says:

    You guys are just willing to buy into anything that criticizes people you don’t respect. It’s confirmation bias.

  15. al-Ameda says:

    Buy into what exactly?
    The idea the Carson can beat Trump in Iowa?
    The idea that Carson is both a world-class neurosurgeon and a world-class nut?
    What confirmation bias are liberals (me included of course) buying into?

  16. grumpy realist says:

    @Pinky: We’re willing to buy into the stupid level of anything said by someone who thinks the world is 6000 years old and evolution is a plot of the Devil.

    Once you’ve shown you buy into total hogwash, why shouldn’t we attribute any other stupid comment supposedly coming from your mouth?

  17. DrDaveT says:


    You guys are just willing to buy into anything that criticizes people you don’t respect. It’s confirmation bias.

    Actually, I assumed that it was a parody. But it was a good parody precisely because it’s so close to the kind of thing he does say, all the time.

  18. michael reynolds says:


    That’s the problem with being a lunatic. People start expecting you say crazy things. And then. . . you do.

    Expectation bias.

  19. Todd says:

    The interesting question going forward, of course, will be how Trump reacts as his poll numbers start slipping.

    We already know the answer to this one from the deleted tweet that was accidentally sent by an “intern”. Iowa has never mattered for Trump, unless he wins there … then it really is game over for the rest of the Republican field.