Donald Trump Remains At The Top Of The Republican Field
Seemingly disproving yet another round of predictions of his imminent demise, Donald Trump continues to dominate the race for the Republican nomination.
While most of the attention of the news media, and no doubt the American public, has been focused for the past week on the terrorist attacks in Paris and the aftermath flowing from that, the race for the White House continues to move forward, and notwithstanding speculation a week ago that he may have once again said something that will hurt him, Donald Trump remains the frontrunner for the Republican nomination.
On the national level, there’s a new national poll from Bloomberg showing Trump and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson remaining at the top of the Republican field:
A pair of political outsiders continues to lead the Republican presidential field after the carnage in Paris, despite growing questions about their foreign-policy experience and acumen.
A Bloomberg Politics poll of U.S. adults out Thursday found that billionaire Donald Trump tops all GOP candidates with 24 percent, Dr. Ben Carson follows with 20 percent and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has 12 percent. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz comes in at 9 percent, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has 6 percent and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has 4 percent. All other candidates are at 3 percent or below.
In matchups between Trump and Carson, Trump leads as the strongest choice to combat Islamic terrorism (55 percent to 29 percent) and handle Vladimir Putin (52 percent to 38 percent).
And while Trump may lead with Republican voters, overall a majority of adults polled from both parties said it would be wrong (63 percent to 27 percent) to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants, a key component of Trump’s immigration plan. President Barack Obama’s policy of allowing undocumented immigrants who came into the U.S. as children to stay gets a plurality of support, and 63 percent of those polled believe it should be continued.
In addition to the Bloomberg poll, a new poll released just this morning from Public Policy Polling also shows Trump increasing his lead over Carson and the rest of the field:
PPP’s first look at the Republican Presidential race nationally in six weeks finds that things haven’t actually changed all that much since early October. Donald Trump leads the field with 26%, to 19% for Ben Carson. Trump and Carson were first and second on our last poll as well at 27% and 17% respectively. Also getting solid amounts of support are Ted Cruz at 14% and Marco Rubio at 13%. No one else in the GOP field even gets more than 5%- Jeb Bush reaches that mark followed by Carly Fiorina and Mike Huckabee at 4%, Chris Christie and John Kasich at 3%, Rand Paul at 2%, Lindsey Graham and George Pataki at 1%, and Jim Gilmore, Bobby Jindal, and Rick Santorum all at less than 1%.
There’s only one candidate in the whole field who can really claim momentum compared to a month ago: that’s Ted Cruz. He’s doubled his support from 7% in early October to its current 14% standing. He’s also seen a net 9 point improvement in his favorability rating from +20 (50/30) a month ago to now +29 (55/26). Cruz is leading the field among voters who describe themselves as ‘very conservative’ with 29% to 24% for Trump and 22% for Carson. On a related note he’s also ahead among self described Tea Partiers with 26% to 23% each for Carson and Trump. He is definitely the candidate headed in the right direction with the right at this time.
Besides Cruz there’s only one other candidate in the whole field whose support has moved by more than 2 points over the last six weeks. That’s Jeb Bush who’s headed in the wrong direction- his 5% level of support is only half of the 10% that he had in October. And Bush just continues to get more unpopular- only 27% of GOP primary voters see him favorably to 50% with a negative opinion. We’ve written a lot this year about his struggles with conservatives and those continue- he has a 22/58 favorability with ‘very conservative’ voters and only 4% support him for the nomination. But he’s also struggling at this point even with moderates- he has a 23/52 favorability with them.
Although Ben Carson remains the most popular of the Republican candidates, his image has taken a little bit of a hit in the last six weeks. His favorability of 61/24 (+37) is down a net 18 points from where it was in early October (+55 at 71/16). Also seeing her favorability go in the wrong direction is Carly Fiorina who declined from +30 (57/27) on the last poll to now +21 (51/30). On the up swing in their favorability numbers are Mike Huckabee (from +6 at 44/38 to +35 at 58/23), Lindsey Graham (from -27 at 18/45 to the still unpopular but better -13 at 24/37), and Chris Christie (from +5 at 43/38 to +14 at 46/32). It’s interesting that everyone who participated in the JV debate last week seems to have come out of it with a better image.
Trump also continues to lead in polling at the state level, although there is at least some sign that Ben Carson may be losing ground in the wake of the questions that have been raised about his qualifications to be President in recent weeks. In a new Fox News poll of New Hampshire, for example, Trump has expanded his lead over Carson largely due to the fact that Carson has slipped in the polls:
Donald Trump is dominating the Republican field in New Hampshire, and Bernie Sanders leads Hillary Clinton by a hair, according to a new Fox News poll out Wednesday.
The poll found that the business mogul has a significant lead over the rest of the Republican field with 27 percent support, more than double his nearest rival, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who has 13 percent. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz comes in third with 11 percent.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson are tied at 9 percent. Ohio Gov. John Kasich has 7 percent and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has 6 percent. The other candidates all have 3 percent or less.
But in a testament to the fluidity of poll scores, 55 percent of GOP primary voters in the state say they could change their mind before they officially make their selection in February; 44 percent are sold on their choice.
Trump continues to perform well in the early primary state of Florida as well, but the interesting thing in this poll may be the fact that Florida Senator Marco Rubio has passed Carson to move into second place behind Trump in the Sunshine State:
A newly released poll of likely Florida Republican primary voters by the Florida Atlantic University Business and Economics Polling Initiative shows Donald Trump with a two-to-one advantage over everybody else and former Gov. Jeb Bush in fifth place, behind Ted Cruz.
“Despite conjecture that Donald Trump has plateaued, his support in Florida remains very strong and could be growing,” said Kevin Wagner, Ph.D., associate professor of political science at FAU and a research fellow of the Initiative.
Trump is also leading in New Jersey, which is far less important to the early race for the nomination, but still a solid indication of the state of play in the GOP right now:
TRENTON – Gov. Chris Christie’s support has dropped by half among home-state Republicans, who now prefer three other candidates for their party’s presidential nomination, according to a new poll.
Results released today from the latest Fairleigh Dickinson University poll show Donald Trump with a sizeable lead in New Jersey at 31 percent. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida is the choice of 18 percent. Author and retired neurologist Ben Carson was supported by 11 percent.
Then comes Christie at 9 percent, down from the 18 percent support he logged in FDU’s June poll. At that time he led in New Jersey along with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who has dropped to 5 percent in the new survey. In June, Trump was at 11 percent.
The poll results are interesting but in a sense irrelevant, as New Jersey’s primary isn’t until early June. By then the field will have changed, news developments will have intervened and candidates will have been in New Jersey campaigning, unless the nomination has been decided.
The results reinforce earlier polling that reached similar findings, however. Last month, a Rutgers-Eagleton Poll found Christie’s support had been cut in half over the previous two months to 12 percent, far behind Trump’s 32 percent.
It was less than a week ago, of course, on the morning of Friday the 13th that would end with the Paris attacks, that there was yet another round of speculation that Trump had harmed himself in a way that would impact his standing in the race. This time, the speculations was set off by a speech by Trump in Iowa that lasted more than an hour and touched on everything to Trump’s promise to “bomb the shit” out of ISIS, to a long diatribe against Ben Carson and various accounts from Carson’s biography regarding his violent past, and even attacks on Iowa voters supporting Carson that many thought would start to turn off the public. As I cautioned at the time, though, we had seen many other moments during the course of this campaign when Trump supposedly said something that would be fatal to his campaign, only to see the candidate’s fortunes not be impacted at all or, if they were, to only be slightly negatively impacted and bounce back a short time thereafter.
Looking at the poll averages, Trump’s continued dominance of the race notwithstanding the predictions of the pundits and the apparent hopes of many Republican remains clear and confirmed. RealClearPolitics shows Trump with an average 2.8 point lead nationally, but that number seems to still reflect polling from earlier in the month that showed Ben Carson closing the gap. With Trump once against seemingly expanding his lead while Carson slips, that average doesn’t seem to be an accurate reflection of the state of the race going forward. It’s been more than a week since we’ve seen any polling in Iowa, where Trump’s average lead was down to one-half a point as of polling completed on November 4th, so it’s unclear what impact Trump’s remarks last week or the events in Paris may have had in the Hawkeve State. The story is much the same in South Carolina, where Trump’s average lead as of November 8th was 2.8 points. In New Hampshire, though, Trump’s lead has increased to an average fourteen points thanks to what seems to be a recent surge by his part in the Granite State. Trump also has a fourteen point average lead in Florida, but the real story there may be the rise of Marco Rubio, who is now less than a point behind Ben Carson in the poll average with an average 17.3 points to Carson’s 18.0 points. Trump’s leads are large in the Pollster average, where he leads by twelve points nationally, nearly twelve points in New Hampshire, and more than twelve points in Florida. Much of this difference, though, is attributable to the fact that Pollster uses a much broader universe of polls to calculate its averages, including online polling that is supposedly scientific but whose methodology remains questionable and, until the current election cycle, untested. Nonetheless, the message from both sites is clear. With basically ten weeks to go before the start of voting Donald Trump is still the frontrunner for the Republican nomination notwithstanding frequent predictions that he was a flash in the ban. If that’s going to change, it’s going to have to start changing soon, or we’re going to have to find that Trump’s campaign is unable to translate success in the polls into success at the ballot box or in the caucus room.