Trump Continues To Lead A Fluid GOP Field

Donald Trump is still in the lead of the Republican circus, but the rest of the field remains uncertain in the wake of the first debate.

Campaign 2016

Donald Trump is continuing his post-debate rise in the polls, but the rest of the field remains quite fluid and it’s still unclear what the stage will look like for next month’s debate:

Donald Trump has won his party’s trust on top issues more than any other Republican presidential candidate, and now stands as the clear leader in the race for the GOP nomination, according to a new CNN/ORC poll.

The survey finds Trump with the support of 24% of Republican registered voters. His nearest competitor,former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, stands 11 points behind at 13%. Just behind Bush, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carsonhas 9%, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker 8%, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul 6%, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former tech CEO Carly Fiorina and Ohio Gov. John Kasich all land at 5%, with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee rounding out the top 10 at 4%.

Trump is the biggest gainer in the poll, up 6 points since July according to the first nationwide CNN/ORC poll since the top candidates debated in Cleveland on Aug. 6. Carson gained 5 points and Fiorina 4 points. Trump has also boosted his favorability numbers among Republicans and Republican-leaning voters, 58% have a favorable view of Trump now, that figure stood at 50% in the July survey.

These nationwide findings follow recent polling in Iowa and New Hampshire showing Trump also leads the Republican field in those two key early states.

Bush, who held the top spot in the field in most CNN/ORC polls on the race between last fall and Trump’s entry into the race in June, has seen his favorability ratings drop alongside his standing in the contest. Overall, 56% hold an unfavorable view of the former Florida governor and 42% of Republican voters have a negative impression. That’s an increase in negative views among all adults (up from 43% since July) and among Republican voters (up from 34% unfavorable).

While Kasich and Fiorina remain largely unknown nationally, those Republicans who do have an opinion of these two — both widely seen as debate standouts — tend to tilt positive. Fiorina has a 45% favorable to 11% unfavorable rating among Republican voters, with 43% unable to rate her, while Kasich’s is 32% favorable to 20% unfavorable, with 49% unable to rate him.

The poll suggests those behind Trump love him: He holds a 98% favorability rating among his supporters. But those Republican voters who aren’t supporting Trump are skeptical that he would help the party. Most Republicans (58%) say the party would have a better chance to win in 2016 with someone else at the top of the ticket, including 72% of those who don’t currently back the businessman.

Still, Trump has quickly won the trust of Republican voters on several top issues. According to the poll, 45% say they trust Trump more than any other Republican candidate on the economy — up 25 points since June, 44% say they trust Trump over the others on illegal immigration — up 30 points since June — and 32% trust him most to handle ISIS, no other candidate comes close on any of these issues.

On the economy and illegal immigration, Trump is far and away the top choice even among those Republicans who support someone else for the nomination (33% who say they will most likely vote for someone else say Trump is their most trusted on the economy, 29% say so on illegal immigration). Trump is also most trusted on social issues, 19% say he’s their top choice to handle that. Bush follows at 15%.

On two of these issues, Trump is more trusted among conservative Republicans than among moderate Republicans: When it comes to both the economy and illegal immigration, 50% of conservatives say they trust Trump, compared with 35% among moderates on each of those issues.

The most surprising thing about the latest Trump rise in the polls is the fact that Republicans in general seem to be becoming more used to the idea of him as a potential nominee. When he first entered the race, the polls showed that Trump was a highly polarizing figure, with those who supported Trump having a rather high opinion of him and those who were not having a very negative opinion. Additionally, in the beginning Trump was not scoring high in the polls on questions regarding which candidate the voters trusted on specific issues except with his supports. Now, he is scoring highly almost across the board even on issues that he has barely said a word about. To some extent, this is a reflection of the fact that he has risen in the polls and some people who were not supporting him before are supporting him now. Beyond that, though, it seems to suggest that the initial aversion that many Republicans had to Trump has worn away and that even many of those who don’t support him now seem to see him as  more plausible Presidential candidate than they might have in the past. On some level of course, this isn’t surprising since much of what Trump is saying are things that Republicans agree with and that he is tapping into the populist outrage that has fueled the Tea Party movement and the hardcore base of the Republican Party since President Obama took office. What this means, of course, is the Trump phenomenon, whatever you might call it, isn’t likely to dissipate any time soon, which will likely hurt the GOP in the long run given that he does not resonate well outside the Republican Party.

Further down the field, the situation isn’t quite as clear as it is at the top. While previous post-debate polls had shown candidates such as Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina rising while Jeb Bush and Scott Walker declined, in this poll Bush at least is still polling in a relatively strong second place while Carson remains in roughly the same place he was in the national polls before the debate. Fiorina has most certainly risen the polls, but at 5% she’s doing about the same as John Kasich, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul. This is largely a reflection of the fact that she was widely perceived as having done very well in the early debate on August 6th, combined with the fact that before this debate she was relatively unknown by most voters outside of those who pay close attention to politics this far out from a Presidential election. Whether she can sustain that, and survive the scrutiny that will inevitably come with her new position in the polls, remains to be seen. As for the other candidates, the story isn’t all that different from what it was before the debate. Scott Walker continues to fall in the polls from the heights he was at before he entered the race, although the pace of that fall has arguably been accelerated by a lackluster performance in the debate. Chris Christie and Rand Paul also continue to fall in the polls, and there’s no sign that Rick Perry has done anything to save what seems for all the world like a dying campaign.

The big question, of course, will be what impact all these polls have on the debate to be held at the Reagan Library in September. Much like the Fox News debate, the rules that CNN has established for that debate provide that the main debate will be open to the people who are in the top ten of the average of the polls, with the remaining candidates relegated to a debate that will be aired earlier in the day. Based on the current RealClearPolitics average, the biggest change between this second debate and the first will be the fact that Carly Fiorina would qualify for the main stage, while Chris Christie would end up in the early debate assuming he even stays in the race. Also in the “Kids Table Debate” would be Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, Lindsey Graham, and George Pataki. Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore would fall into this category as well but he did not receive an invitation from the Reagan Library, largely because he is generally non-existent in the polls.  This lineup doesn’t seem like it’s likely to change any time over the next month, so this next debate could be the last hurrah for most of the candidates who don’t make the main stage, because the debates going forward after this one don’t include a provision for a “runner up” debate. At that point, perhaps, this ridiculously unwieldy field of seventeen candidates will start to contract and voters will start to really pay attention to the race. Until then, though, be prepared for a continuation of The Donald Trump Circus.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds 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. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. HAHAHA — the party of clowns

  2. Pinky says:

    This lineup doesn’t seem like it’s likely to change any time over the next month

    ?

    There are three candidates on RCP at 4.3%, and one at 3.3%. Rasmussen has Huckabee losing more than half his support in the last two weeks. FNC has Paul losing almost half his support in the same time period. All of these numbers are within the margin of error of the surveys. There are no major multicandidate events in the next month, true, but there’s no reason to believe that things won’t change over the next month.

  3. C. Clavin says:

    The most surprising thing about the latest Trump rise in the polls is the fact that Republicans in general seem to be becoming more used to the idea of him as a potential nominee.

    The Party of Stupid continues to live up to their reputation.
    You would imagine that if they like the idea of him as a nominee…then they are good with the idea of him has President.
    Muwahahahahahahaha

  4. Facebones says:

    I think there are a couple things driving Trump’s numbers.

    First, as many have said, he’s not saying anything that is outside the Republican mainstream. He’s just saying it bluntly and without code words.

    Second, a lot of people who would normally not pay any attention to the primaries this far out are tuning in to see what Trump will say next. Which creates more media coverage, which drives ratings, which drives poll numbers. Roger Ailes, one of the most powerful men in cable news, threw his star anchor under the bus to make sure that Trump would still do interviews with them. I think 25% is right around his ceiling. That is enough to lead a crowded field.

    I’m sure the party mandarins are hoping that everyone will coalesce around one anti-Trump. It looked like Jeb! would be that one, but if he keeps putting his foot in his mouth every five minutes I have no idea who they’re going to pick.

  5. Tillman says:

    Trump right now is testing two different nerves — the nerves of Republican kingmakers driven insane by his disregard for their conventional wisdom, and the nerves of mainstream media outlets who have staffs entirely unable to accept Trump as a possible nominee. If he continues succeeding in his current fashion, someone is going to break. Thank goodness we live in an age when breaking in public can be instantly recorded and preserved for posterity.

    Do you think it’ll happen at this next debate, or will they contain the pressure while firing glancing shots here and there? The suspense is terrible; I hope it’ll last.

  6. cian says:

    It’s fascinating, really. We all know he’s not a real candidate, and outside of the republican primaries, where bluff and snark and pure meanness of heart is all you need, he wouldn’t last two minutes. In the general he would actually have to back up what he says, and given that what he proposes is utter madness (round up 11 million people and deport them?) he will fail spectacularly. I don’t believe that the republican base take him seriously either, but as someone said on another site, it’s like a reality TV show, you want to keep the villain in as long as possible.

  7. Modulo Myself says:

    Trump’s ahead because watching Walker, Bush or Rubio attempt to come up with policy or a coherent thought is as painful as watching Hillary Clinton try to connect with millennials by mentioning Uber. Most liberals are going to be able to bear it simply because the alternative is insane. Meanwhile the GOP is insane but not insane enough to listen to actual GOP policy.

    Anyway, the nuts fondling emails in hopes of erecting a scandal will be happier hate-f–ing President Hillary Clinton than watching halfwits try to reform Social Security or reinvent our ME policy.

  8. Scott says:

    he is tapping into the populist outrage that has fueled the Tea Party movement and the hardcore base of the Republican Party since President Obama took office.

    This has the look and smell of George Wallace’s campaigns in 1968 and 1972. Tapping into bitter resentment of “elites” and “people who look down on others”. A lot of these people were Democrats then, but switched to Republicans in the 70s and 80s. The rhetoric is similar and directed at “others” in similar ways.

    I suspect it will top out at about 30-35% and go no further.

  9. gVOR08 says:

    I find it interesting that Carson is still 3rd and rising despite revelations he dealt in fetal tissue, the worstest thing anyone could possibly do according to GOPs, and his fumbling word salad responses. I don’t know if this reflects a lack of coverage on FOX, IOKIYAR, or the sort of selective memory that seemed to completely dissociate Romney from Romneycare. Or maybe just slow reaction time.

  10. Kylopod says:

    The funny thing is that the “normal, reasonable” candidates have said stuff like no abortion even for rape, incest, or life of the mother, turn Medicare into voucher system, climate change isn’t caused by humans, “enhanced interrogation” against suspects, the Iraq War was good judgment, we don’t need Obamacare because of Google Watch…. Need I go on?

    But after the implosion of Trump (which will happen, mark my words) and the GOP base goes through its usual month-long crushes with Cruz, Carson, Huckabee, etc., then it will settle onto one of the “normal, reasonable” candidates.

    This is something I call the Iraqi Gandhi Effect, after an old Onion article about the “Iraqi Gandhi” who shows his peace-loving ways by criticizing the 9/11 hijackers for having destroyed both towers. That’s the way things work in GOP politics these days; it’s not that the weird extremists win the nomination, it’s that the so-called “moderates” are actually saying things that under normal circumstances would be regarded as totally bonkers, but they retain their “moderate” status simply because they sound reasonable in relative comparison to the Trumps, Carsons, Hucks, etc. And the so-called mainstream media, as usual, will just eat it up.

  11. al-Ameda says:

    Fiorina has a 45% favorable to 11% unfavorable rating among Republican voters,

    I presume that those polled know that as CEO, Carly Fiorina presided over a period of significant decline of HP-Agilent. Her failed $25B merger-acquisition of Compaq, greased the skid.

  12. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    Anyway, the nuts fondling emails in hopes of erecting a scandal…

    That was a beautifully constructed sentence.

  13. michael reynolds says:

    @gVOR08:

    Trump and Carson both have said and done things that would be anathema if they were Democrats.

    It is not about issues. Not with Republicans. It is all emotion, and the emotions in question are fear and rage.

  14. Tillman says:

    @Kylopod: That’s why Trump’s continued hold over the primary electorate is so annoying to both media and party elites. The water cooler talk in media circles is over how insane this one idiot sounds, while the party elders are commiserating over how insane this one idiot makes the rest of them sound. Mike “rape a 10 year old, she’s gotta bear that kid” Huckabee probably wouldn’t have bothered informing the world in such stark terms without Trumpsprechen infecting his bravado.

  15. Modulo Myself says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    Thanks. Let me pay some respect to the Harvard Crimson’s PRESIDENT LOWELL FIGHTS ERECTION IN HARVARD SQUARE (regarding the construction of a subway kiosk). Probably the best erection pun of the 20th century and maybe written by William Gaddis.

  16. C. Clavin says:

    Trump is simply being the quintessential Republican Politician.
    He’s selling fear and anger and a general fwck-you attitude.
    The problem is that approach does not engender any policy solutions. e.g. he is making people angry about Immigration but his policy ideas are child-like in their naivete.
    We see tha same thing with the current Congress. They are great at stoking fear and anger but they can’t get anything of substance done.
    There was a time when Republicans could do things. Not anymore.

  17. charon says:

    @gVOR08:

    Maybe Carson just more appealing or plausible to the Christians than rivals like Huckabee, Cruz, Jindal etc. and becoming the Christianist of choice.

  18. Barry says:

    @gVOR08: “I find it interesting that Carson is still 3rd and rising despite revelations he dealt in fetal tissue, the worstest thing anyone could possibly do according to GOPs, and his fumbling word salad responses. ”

    For the first, he’s denying it sorta already – he apparently ‘facilitated’ or ‘obtained’ the tissue.
    Nothing that public show of tears and claims of repentance won’t fix.

    As for word salad, that’s the norm.

  19. Barry says:

    @Tillman: “That’s why Trump’s continued hold over the primary electorate is so annoying to both media and party elites. The water cooler talk in media circles is over how insane this one idiot sounds, while the party elders are commiserating over how insane this one idiot makes the rest of them sound. Mike “rape a 10 year old, she’s gotta bear that kid” Huckabee probably wouldn’t have bothered informing the world in such stark terms without Trumpsprechen infecting his bravado.”

    Trump will draaaaaaaaaaaaaaaag the contest over to the right, and make some core beliefs of the Base well known to everybody.

    I love it!

  20. stonetools says:

    Like I said, the party of insane policy…

    It’s not just Trump saying craziness, they’re all saying craziness.

    Is the Republican Party really going to run on a platform of deporting 11 million people, building a 3000 mile wall along the southern border, making abortion illegal in all cases , opposing any minimum wage increases, and going to war with Iran as soon as possible? Because this is what the GOP agenda looks like.

    Please proceed, GOP. The Democrats need to win by as big a landslide as possible next year.

  21. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @charon: I find him the most likable of the Christianists. He has genuine humility in his demeanor that, for example, Huckabee and Cruz don’t have when he is staking out positions where his faith “forces his positions.” He knows he’s on the wrong side of society and apologizes for it, whereas the others are proud to be “opposed by the Godless.”

  22. DrDaveT says:

    Just had a visit with my father-in-law, who is 127 years old (more or less), a PhD in a technical field, an astute investor, a published historian, yadda yadda. He seemed completely startled that I didn’t consider Trump to be a ‘real’ candidate. I honestly think he’s leaning that way.

    Dear God.