Donald Trump Solidifies His Lead In Final Pre-Debate Polls

The last three polls to be released before Thursday's debate show Donald Trump continuing to solidify his lead.

Donald Trump Speaking Closeup

What are likely to be the final polls released before Fox News announces who it will be inviting to Thursday’s debate and who will get stuck with an invitation to what is being called the “Kid’s Table” confirm what we’ve been seeing for the past two weeks, Donald Trump in the lead and Rick Perry’s effort to get himself into the main debate has most likely failed.

First up, there’s the new poll from Fox News that puts Trump nine points ahead of his nearest rival and only two candidates in double digits:

Businessman Donald Trump continues to gain ground in the race for the Republican nomination.  What’s more, the number of GOP primary voters saying they would at least consider backing Trump has more than doubled in the last two months.  Meanwhile, support for Democratic frontrunner former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton remains high, despite sliding to its lowest yet.

These are some of the findings from the latest Fox News national poll on the 2016 presidential race.

Trump receives the backing of 26 percent of self-identified Republican primary voters — up from 18 percent in mid-July and 11 percent a month ago. That’s not only the highest level of support for Trump, but it’s also the highest any GOP candidate has received since the Fox poll began asking the question in December 2013.

Trump’s rise hasn’t hurt former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who garners 15 percent and is the only other Republican in double-digits.  He was at 14 percent in mid-July and 15 percent in June.

Behind Trump and Bush, it’s Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker at 9 percent, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson at 7 percent, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee at 6 percent each, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul at 5 percent a piece, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Ohio Gov. John Kasich get 3 percent each.

That group is followed by businesswoman Carly Fiorina and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum tied at 2 percent, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal tied at 1 percent and former New York Gov. George Pataki, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore receive less than 1 percent support.

Two Republicans threw their hat in the ring in the last two weeks.  Kasich formally announced July 21 and his support went from two percent in mid-July to three percent in the new poll.  Gilmore made his candidacy official July 30.

Men (29 percent) are a bit more likely than women (24 percent) to back Trump — yet he’s the top vote-getter for both.

Another example of GOP primary voters increasingly liking what they hear from Trump:  34 percent say they would “definitely” vote for him, which is more than four times what it was two months ago (8 percent).

And the number who would “never” support Trump dropped 26 percentage points: it was 59 percent in June and 33 percent now.  Graham (40 percent), Christie (34 percent) and Pataki (34 percent) now have more voters than the Donald saying they would never vote for them.  

This morning, we got two polls from Bloomberg News and CBS News and The New York Times:

Chris Christie and John Kasich remain ahead of Rick Perry in the race for the final spots on the debate stage in Cleveland this week, according to two new polls released Tuesday that have Donald Trump on top of the GOP presidential field.

Christie and Kasich each earn 4 percent of the vote in a Bloomberg Politics poll, ahead of Perry, who is at 2 percent. A new CBS News poll shows Christie at 3 percent, Perry at 2 percent and Kasich at 1 percent.

The two polls keep Perry, the former Texas governor, mired in 11th place in an average of the most recent live-caller polls, which is believed to be Fox News’ criteria for selecting the 10 participants in Thursday night’s first Republican presidential debate.

The Bloomberg poll shows Trump with 21 percent of the vote, easily ahead of the second-place candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, at 10 percent. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (8 percent), former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (7 percent), Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (6 percent), pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson (5 percent), Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (5 percent), Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (4 percent), Christie and Kasich round out the top 10.

Further back in both the Bloomberg poll and the average of recent polls are former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (2 percent in the Bloomberg poll, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina (1 percent), South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham (1 percent), former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore (0 percent) and former New York Gov. George Pataki (0 percent).

In the CBS News poll, Trump has 24 percent, to 13 percent for Bush and 10 percent for Walker. Trailing the top three are Huckabee (8 percent), Carson (6 percent), Cruz (6 percent), Rubio (6 percent), Paul (4 percent), Christie (3 percent), Jindal (2 percent), Perry (2 percent), Gilmore (1 percent), Kasich (1 percent), Pataki (1 percent), Santorum (1 percent), Fiorina (0 percent) and Graham (0 percent)

With this final round of pre-debate polling, Donald Trump now clearly leads the Republican field outside of the margin of error. In the RealClearPolitics average, which is slightly different from the average that Fox News will be using for the debate but close enough for the purpose of analysis, Trump now has a 23.2% average, with Jeb Bush second at 12.8% and Scott Walker third at 10.6%. Nobody else has an average in the double digits, and the closest candidates to Walker in the average are Mike Huckabee and Ben Carson, neither of whom will be the Republican nominee, who are tied a 6.6%. The top ten is about the same as it has been since late last week, with Chris Christie and John Kasich in ninth and tenth place respectively and Rick Perry standing on the outside with an average poll standing of 2.0%. Indeed, instead of seeing his numbers go up in the most recent polls Perry has actually seen his numbers get worse as time has gone on. The fact that the former Texas Governor has been among the most vocal critics of Donald Trump over the past month and half led many observers to think that he would benefit from some of the anti-Trump antipathy that one sees in the poll numbers. Instead, Perry’s numbers have gone done and Donald Trump has seemingly become more acceptable to potential Republican voters.

The big question, of course, is how long all of this will last. The conventional wisdom among political analysts continues to be that Trump’s rise in the polls and Republican voters’ flirtation with him are temporary phenomena not dissimilar from similar episodes we’ve seen in past elections with candidates such as Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, and Newt Gingrich. Perhaps this will prove to be correct. Indeed, anyone with a passing knowledge of the history of American electoral politics knows how uncommon it is for the candidate who is leading in the polls in the August before primaries even start to end up being their parties nominee. It didn’t happen to Hillary Clinton in 2008 or Rudy Giuliani in that same year, and logic tells us that much the same thing will happen to Donald Trump. At some point, the enthusiasm for Trump will fade either because Republican voters have ended their summer fling and decided to focus on candidates that actually have a realistic shot at winning the election or Trump will shoot himself in the foot somehow. So far, neither of those things have happened though, and it seems unlikely that it will happen any time soon. Indeed, every time Trump does something that one would rationally think would hurt him with voters, like attacking John McCain’s military service, his poll numbers go up. Additionally, as I’ve said before, the fact that Trump is self-funding means that he isn’t subject to the same pressures that other candidates whose political fortunes are on the decline may be. If he wants to, Donald Trump could stay in this race all the way to the Republican Convention next June.

The process will begin sorting itself out on Thursday with the first debate. There was a candidate’s forum last night in New Hampshire, but it wasn’t a traditional debate, Trump wasn’t there, and by all accounts for format required to accommodate the fourteen candidates who did show up unsurprisingly resulted in a less than substantive event. Thursday won’t be much better in that regard, of course, but at least with all the top candidates in the room at the same time we’ll get a better idea of how the race will shape out going forward.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, 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. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    I watched part of it on C-Span. It was underwhelming, and my feeling (although I hope that I am wrong) was that the candidates got to pick the questions that they answered ahead of time.

  2. Bob @ Youngstown says:

    34 percent say they would “definitely” vote for him (Trump)

    34% of the republicans polled are collectively insane….

  3. Bob @ Youngstown says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker:
    My wife and I watched. Her reaction was that (1) it was civilized (in spite of Graham’s comedic remarks) and (2) generally speaking most of the candidates did not answer the question asked, but deflected. We look forward to more of the same on Thursday. Yawn

  4. C. Clavin says:

    So Fox News is now officially running the Republican Party?

  5. TPF says:

    In other news, Doug is on suicide watch… LOL

    I told you the McCain attack was not going to hurt Trump. McCain has LONG overstayed his welcome with Republicans.

  6. grumpy realist says:

    Trump is the logical result of a bored populace that looks upon politics as entertainment.

    I do think that Trump has a big enough ego that he honestly thinks being POTUS is just a case of telling people what to do and if someone doesn’t do it, send the military after them.

  7. James Pearce says:

    Indeed, every time Trump does something that one would rationally think would hurt him with voters, like attacking John McCain’s military service, his poll numbers go up.

    Which I think is a testament to the low stakes right now.

    It remains true that most Republican voters prefer someone other than Trump. It also remains true that, at the moment, the candidates are running for a spot on a debate stage, not necessarily a spot in the Oval Office.

    Right now Trump thinks he’s a snowball rolling down hill, gaining circumference with every spin, but really he’s trudging uphill. It’s only going to get harder. The stakes will get higher, the expectations right along with it. Does Trump have the steam to do nothing but this for the next year and change?

    See him in his red hat, the one he wears because he’s too busy to futz with his over-complicated comb over, and you tell me.

  8. JohnMcC says:

    I saw a poll (which I cannot find @ present, darnit) showing Mr Trump has astonishingly broad support across the Repub spectrum. He seems to be considered by the left-side as pretty much a Tea-Party kind of candidate but he showed strength across the evangelicals and business side as well as the national security faction. I was impressed, to tell the truth because the breadth of support exceeded any other candidate’s. I’m coming to the strong conviction that he’s going all the way to the convention unless he finds some way to commit electoral suicide.

    It’s hell getting older — coulda sworn it was a Pew Poll — not there — wouldn’t have been Rasmussin — mumble mumble mumble…..

  9. Castanea says:

    Must be great for the other candidates how their particular brands of crazy, ideological purity and recklessness are allowed to seem acceptable, to the media and other know-nothings, by comparison.

  10. Franklin says:

    @grumpy realist: Exactly my thoughts. When Trump says he’ll deport all the unauthorized immigrants and then let the really good ones back in, I’m curious how exactly he thinks this would be implemented (legally, logistically, etc.).

  11. HarvardLaw92 says:


    The problem for the party is that it has actively cultivated and pandered to crazy over the last decade or so (if not longer, if we include the decades of pandering to evangelicals …) and now a large chunk of its base consists of crazy.

    In a rational world, Trump making the other loonies seem sane by comparison would be helpful. The problem is that the Republican primaries are not a rational world. There, crazy sells – and it sells well.

  12. Dumb Brit says:

    I’m not to sure that Trump would do too well in the UK, even if this Urban Dictionary definition is spot on:
    Trump – slang for a fart, expelling of wind from the anus.

  13. gVOR08 says:

    @James Pearce:

    See him in his red hat, the one he wears because he’s too busy to futz with his over-complicated comb over, and you tell me.

    That’s how I think his candidacy is going to end. He’s going to be at an outdoor event, a strong wind will come up, and then “Oh say can you see…”.

    (Actually, no, I don’t believe it. If Obama or Hillary didn’t uncover for the National Anthem it would be the greatest atrocity since slavery. For Trump it would be IOKIYAR. Rand Paul too. That thing that looks like a dead marmoset is a curly hair comb over.)

  14. CSK says:


    Trump’s fan club is conveniently ignoring the fact that he said he’d let them back in, and let the “good” ones stay.

    All that matters to them is that he’s gonna evict 30 million brown-skinned people from the country, build a 1575-mile-long wall, and make Mexico pay for it.

    It’s hard to believe that that many people could be that gullible, but there it is.

  15. C. Clavin says:


    build a 1575-mile-long wall

    That alone shows how gullible Republicans are.
    In a country that cannot pass a highway spending bill we are going to build the Berlin Wall on steroids.

  16. Moosebreath says:

    Jon Chait makes the argument that Trump’s appeal is his combative personality, not his actual positions, better than I’ve seen anyone else do it:

    “Next to the tiny ideological bumps Republicans have obsessively smoothed from their record, Trump’s profile of deviations is incomprehensibly vast. He has called himself pro-choice, endorsed single-payer health care, praised Hillary Clinton’s performance as secretary of State, donated to Democrats, and called for a huge onetime tax on existing wealth. It must be galling for the party regulars to prostrate themselves helplessly before the base, purging any hint of independent thought, only to watch a formerly pro-choice, libertine if not liberal, Democratic donor waltz into the lead.”

  17. CSK says:


    That’s it, really. He yells, blusters, and threatens everyone (including the Harvard Lampoon staff) who dares treat him lightly. Somehow, that makes him a real man.

    Our junior varsity macho man Ted Cruz is clearly getting nervous about being out-machoed by Trump, which is why he just released a video of himself wrapping a strip of bacon around the barrel of a semi-automatic rifle and shooting at a target to demonstrate how bacon is cooked in Texas. I am not kidding. See for yourself:

  18. SenyorDave says:

    @CSK: It has been many years since the GOP began to ride the crazy train, at least a full generation. And now the insanity is solidified. In terms of policies, the GOP is kind of like the episode of Seinfeld where George tries doing the opposite of everything he normally does, because every decision he makes is always wrong.

    For the Republicans, they still believe in the Laffer curve even though they have tried it multiple times and it has failed repeatedly, they believe the Iraq war was an overall positive, they believe that white people have it real tough and face everyday discrimination, and a lot of Republicans seem to think Obama has made the economy worse (because it was in great shape when he became president, losing 600k jobs a month and the stock and housing markets melting down).

    The current GOP truly lives in alternate reality, and it is pointless to argue with them. Trump is their perfect candidate, his answers are simple. I actually saw a bit of an interview with him and when asked how he would fix the infrastructure his answer was he would fix it and make it work, and when pressed, he said it was simple and that was his answer. Can’t argue with that. A rich, nastier version of Palin.

  19. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @CSK: That was a hoot! Thanks for the link.

  20. Tillman says:

    @CSK: damn it I thought someone on Twitter made that up.

  21. Stan says:

    In a previous thread Michael Reynolds compared present day Republicans to the Nazis. His remarks are indefensible, but he grasped something that eludes our hosts. Deporting 11 million people would be a horrible crime, right up there with the concentration camps for Japanese immigrants FDR set up during World War II. Under Trump’s plan, would deportees be transported to the border in cattle cars? Would Americans steal their property after they were gone, the way Issei and Nisei farms were stolen during the 40’s? How many children would be separated from their parents en route? Where would the deportees be housed after being dumped over the border? A few generations on, will we see memorial plaques in Los Angeles commemorating the deportees, similar to the Stolpersteins haunting the sidewalks of German cities?

    It makes me weep to think that a major American political party would support a policy this inhumane. And yet Trump has a big lead in the polls, and nobody in his party is willing to attack him on his major talking point. Is there nobody in the Republican party to say that what he’s proposing is wrong?

  22. David M says:


    I’m not sure anything Trump says is serious. The GOP is nonstop vaporware at this point, so their statements aren’t necessarily policy proposals that will result in legislative actions. Especially given how expensive and problematic mass deportations would be.

  23. grumpy realist says:

    @Stan: Yes, well–you’re thinking about how it would actually work out in reality, as opposed to the Happy Unicorn Fields the Republicans are running around in.

    I swear, if these critters had been in charge when the Soviets had launched Sputnik they would have tried to invade Beirut as a reasonable response.

  24. charon says:


    Trump’s fan club is conveniently ignoring the fact that he said he’d let them back in, and let the “good” ones stay.

    All that matters to them is that he’s gonna evict 30 million brown-skinned people from the country, build a 1575-mile-long wall, and make Mexico pay for it.

    It’s hard to believe that that many people could be that gullible, but there it is.

    I think a lot of them don’t really care if he can or will really do those things. He says he will, therefore his heart is in the right place, so he will do something, maybe, whatever. It’s the thought that counts, no?

  25. MikeSJ says:

    No one is going to build a wall between us and Mexico. No one is going to deport 11 million illegals. It’s not going to happen even if there’s a President Trump and 70 Republicans in the Senate.

    Now what I don’t know is if the dopes and the marks AKA the base of the Republican party know this?

    This is all theater meant to distract the base from the all important work of lowering taxes and regulations in order to make the 1% richer.

  26. Pinky says:

    @Stan: You don’t have to look hard to find Republicans criticizing Trump’s statements.

  27. Tony W says:

    Ann Coulter has to be kicking herself about now that she never took the plunge to run for president.

    Her problem was that she had more policy ideas than Trump, but the vapid, meaningless anger levels are about the same.

    With all these weeks of Trump in the lead, as a spectator I have put down the popcorn and moved to the edge of my chair in genuine concern.

  28. JohnMcC says:

    @JohnMcC: Bloomberg Poll! Josh Green has a piece up explaining that Mr Trump is NOT appealing to a small segment of R’s:

  29. JohnMcC says:

    @Pinky: Citations?

  30. DrDaveT says:

    The authors fail to draw the obvious conclusion, which is that the Republican party now consists (to a first approximation) of mouth-breathing xenophobes. You can’t prove that Trump’s appeal is broader than that until you show that the Republican party is broader than that.

  31. Tillman says:

    @Pinky: Oh come on dude, you need to demonstrate it’s not hard to find. Like by pointing to any article about Rick Perry, or that one focus group they had on Hannity some nights ago.

    I hadn’t noticed before Perry called Trump “a cancer on conservatism.”

  32. Franklin says:


    build a 1575-mile-long wall

    Hey, he also said he would make America great again. What better way than to build the Great Wall of America?

  33. Pinky says:

    @Tillman: I’m assuming that Stan can use Google but didn’t think to. A person can make a false statement without being stupid or a liar.

  34. Pinky says:

    @Pinky: The people I worry about are the ones who downvote easily-verifiable facts.