Trump Still Leads The GOP Field, Anti-Trump Wave Still Not Manifesting Itself

A pair of new polls confirms that Republican hopes that Donald Trump would fade are failing to come true.

Republican Debate September 16

With one week out until the next Republican debate, two new polls show that Donald Trump and Ben Carson continue to be the overwhelming outright leaders of the field, while the anti-Trump wave that many pundits seemed to think was coming continues to fail to manifest itself.

First up, the new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows Trump and Carson continuing to broaden their appeal among Republican voters:

Donald Trump and Ben Carson continue to broaden their appeal among Republican primary voters and have widened their lead over former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and many other more-experienced candidates, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds.

Mr. Bush, once considered the GOP’s likely nominee, is also lagging behind his onetime protege, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who is emerging as a leading contender to rally the party’s establishment wing against the rise of insurgent outsiders such as Messrs. Trump and Carson.

The new poll, conducted Oct. 15-18, underscores the durability—even the gathering strength—of anti-Washington candidates who had long been viewed as likely to be flash-in-the-pan political phenomena.

The poll also tested opinion on another aspect of the Republican Party’s internal struggles, the question of who will succeed Rep. John Boehner (R., Ohio) as House speaker. GOP primary voters in the survey said it was more important to find a successor who would stand up for principles rather than seek compromise, even if that meant less work would get done, by a 56% to 40% split.

Nearly two-thirds of Republicans said they would be “comfortable and positive” if Rep.Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) became speaker. Mr. Ryan so far has refused to take the job, but many Republicans see him as one of the few figures who could appeal both to establishment and insurgent wings of the party.

In the presidential competition, candidates with little political experience continue to rule. Mr. Trump, the reality-television celebrity and businessman, was the first choice of GOP primary voters, with 25% support, up from 21% in a late September Journal/NBC News poll.

Mr. Carson, the retired neurosurgeon, placed second in the new survey, with 22% support, a slight rise over last month despite controversy over statements he made that an observant Muslim shouldn’t be U.S. president.

Behind them was Mr. Rubio, who rose to 13% in the poll from 11% last month. He was the only other GOP candidate to draw double-digit support.

Mr. Bush, who led the field as recently as June, when he was first choice of 22% of GOP primary voters, drew 8% in the latest poll. That put him in the same league as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, the antiestablishment conservative who entered the race as a long shot, and Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard executive who gained traction after the first two GOP debates, but hasn’t reached the top tier. Mr. Cruz had 9% support, and Mrs. Fiorina 7%.

Mr. Bush is losing among poll respondents such as Nicholas Montagnoli, a construction worker in California who prefers Messrs. Trump and Carson, and views their lack of political experience as an asset, not a liability.

“The circle [of people] that runs around staying in politics, they become so involved that they are not doing what they came to office to do anymore,” said Mr. Montagnoli, who said he couldn’t support Mr. Bush. “I think fresh people and nonpolitical people would do a lot better.”

The poll also included a broader measure of candidates’ acceptability, which illustrated how much the ground has shifted under Mr. Bush. When asked whether they could imagine themselves supporting a candidate, more GOP primary voters said they couldn’t see themselves supporting Mr. Bush, at 44%, than Mr. Trump, at 36%.

For Mr. Trump, that is a dramatic improvement over March, before he announced his candidacy, when 74% of GOP primary voters said they couldn’t see themselves supporting him.

Following Trump and Carson in the NBC/WSJ poll are Ted Cruz at 9%, Jeb Bush at 8%, Carly Fiorina at 7%, Mike Huckabee and John Kasich at 3%, Rand Paul at 2%, and every other candidate at 1% or less.

The numbers are similar in the new CNN/ORC poll:

Carly Fiorina’s time near the top of the Republican polls may have come to an end, as another national CNN/ORC poll out Tuesday suggests. Just 4 percent of Republican or Republican-leaning voters said they would cast their votes for her in a primary election, down from 15 percent in September.

Overall, Donald Trump led the field with 27 percent, followed again by Ben Carson with 22 percent, up 8 points from last month’s survey. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio each earned 8 percent, followed by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul at 5 percent. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Fiorina pulled in 4 percent, while Ohio Gov. John Kasich earned 3 percent, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum 2 percent and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham 1 percent.

Appearing later in the morning on CNN’s “New Day,” Trump commented that he and Carson have both “hit a chord” in the electorate.

On whether the two could team up as a presidential ticket, Trump remarked, “Well, I like him. He likes me. Stranger things have happened, that I can tell you. But it’s too early to think about that.”

Responding to Fiorina’s drop, Trump expressed surprise that the former Hewlett-Packard executive fell by so much so quickly.

The poll helped to solidify spots in next week’s CNBC debate for a number of candidates who were on the bubble. Huckabee, Paul, Christie and Kasich are all now at 3 percent or above in an average of qualifying public polls since the previous debate, giving them some cushion above the 2.5 percent threshold to participate in the main debate.

And the survey appears to mean that Graham — who has been at zero percent in each of the first seven polls — has earned a ticket to the undercard debate, where he will join Santorum, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former New York Gov. George Pataki. Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore (zero percent) still has failed to qualify.

To a large degree, these polls confirm what we saw in the Fox News poll that was released last week, namely that the slide that Donald Trump had seen in the wake of the September Republican Debate had come to and end, that Ben Carson was continuing to rise in the polls but largely not at Trump’s expense, and that the remainder of the field was pretty much stuck where they had been or declining. In the RealClearPolitics national average, Trump is at 26%, followed by Carson at 21% and in both cases the trend line for the past several weeks has been largely upward. Following the top two, we have Marco Rubio at 10.2%, which seems to be an indication of the possible rise for the Florida Senator that I’ve noted before. After Rubio comes Jeb Bush at 8.0%, a number which comes on the same day as a poll showing him sinking to 9% in his home state of Florida while Rubio stands at 14.9% behind Trump and Carson. The numbers are largely the same from Pollster, and the calculations there that include only the polls that CNBC will consider when it issues its debate invitations later this week continue to show that both Chris Christie and John Kasich will fail to make the cut for the main debate stage, while Rand Paul will get through notwithstanding previous doubts about his standing in the polls. That would leave eight candidates on the stage for a two-hour debate, which is certainly saner and more rational than the ten and eleven we saw in the first two Republican debates.

If nothing else, these poll numbers continue to put the lie to whatever hopes that more establishment Republicans may have hoped about how the 2016 race for the Republican nomination might unfold. Donald Trump has led in every reputable national poll that has been released since early July, and Ben Carson has been surging since the first Republican debate in office. More establishment candidates like Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, meanwhile, have seen their numbers sink and remain largely stagnant both at the state and national level. Other candidates that many analysts believe could bridge the gap between the establishment GOP and conservatives and thus have the means to be able to take Trump on, such as Scott Walker and Rick Perry, have dropped out of the race already. Two other such candidates, John Kasich and Chris Christie seem as though they might not be far behind unless their position in the polls and fundraising continue. Carly Fiorina, meanwhile, seems to have outlived her welcome since her poll numbers have declined since appearing on the main stage given the fact that her poll numbers have consistently fallen since that September debate. Of the remaining candidates, Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee have largely stayed in place in the middle of the pack, while Rand Paul, John Kasich, and Chris Christie have all fallen in the polls and the guys at the bottom of the polls have stayed there much as everyone expected they would. If there is an anti-Trump wave out there, it certainly has not manifested itself among Republicans at this point, and given the fact that Trump’s closest competitor is someone who is unlikely to really take him on aggressively there’s no reason to believe that it is going to end any time soon.

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. CSK says:

    On another site this morning I read a comment by one of Trump’s ardent fans, a self-identified “constitutional conservative”: “So what if he’s not conservative? None of the others are anyway.”

  2. CSK says:

    On another site this morning I read a comment by one of Trump’s ardent fans, a self-identified “constitutional conservative.” It was: “So what if he’s not conservative? None of the others are anyway.”

    The cognitive dissonance is staggering.

  3. C. Clavin says:

    @CSK:

    a self-identified “constitutional conservative”

    So one of those folks who has never read and has no idea what the Constitution actually says?

  4. C. Clavin says:

    Meantime JEB! has started blaming Clinton for 9.11, to cover for his brother.
    This poor schmuck started out claiming to be his own man. Now he is spending all his time running as Bush 3.0

  5. CSK says:

    @C. Clavin:

    That would be my guess. Apparently it’s okay with them if Trump wants to violate the Constitution.

  6. Kylopod says:

    @CSK: One of the weirdest things I’ve seen from Trumpite commenters is their use of the term “RINO” to any Republican who opposes him.

    Consistency has never been one of the right’s strong points, but when Palinistas throw around the word “RINO,” I at least can understand it on an abstract level. Or I thought I could. If a man who has given more money to Dems than Republicans, who never identified as a Republican until about five years ago, who has supported single-payer health care and large tax increases on the wealthy, is a “true Republican,” then what exactly is a fake one? It almost makes you think that all along they never cared about any of those other issues, all that ever mattered to them is how willing a candidate is to talk like a racist a$$hole–the true mark of a “true Republican.” Ya think?

  7. Scott says:

    Other than polling data, these stories tell me nothing. The one quote provided tells me nothing.:

    “I think fresh people and nonpolitical people would do a lot better.”

    I wish there was follow up such as: What do you think fresh and nonpolitical people are going to do? What will be a lot better? Etc.

    I just don’t know what all these people are expecting from Trump and Carson other than having their discontent massaged.

  8. CSK says:

    @Kylopod:

    I think there’s a lot in what you say. As soon as Trump said he was going to throw all the Mexicans out of the country (by unspecified means, though any I can think of would entail violating the Constitution); build a 1575-mile-long wall to keep them out (impossible); and make Mexico pay for the wall (equally impossible), they hopped on the bandwagon.

    And the fact that he’s a racist, misogynistic oaf is just icing on the cake.

    Ted Cruz is, apparently, too liberal for them.

  9. al-Ameda says:

    This morning on my ferry, the flat screen was tuned to CNN, and they (CNN) were running one breathless segment after the other, with the crawl on the bottom of the screen reading “Is a Trump-Carson Ticket possible?”

    I have to admit, I love this.

  10. Slugger says:

    If the customers are not buying what you are selling at some point you have to stop wondering why the clients are so wrong. I see a large number of people who despise everything that the Democrats stand for but are not inspired by the insipid people being put forward by the middle of the road, country club, Wall Street party. Emotionally they know that the Dems do not represent defenders of traditional white/male/straight/religious dominance, but at the same time they know that Republican economic policies have led to making the 0.1 percent richer while the middle American income has been eroding. Yes, every Republican candidate vows to protect them from immigrants, but they know that it won’t matter if we have economic policies that lead to many enterprises being sited outside our borders.
    In my mind the big question is whether middle America will make common cause with the underclass or scapegoat them. Trump represents the scapegoating, but no one has come forward as an alternative. His hat says “Taking America Back.” Nobody, either Dem or mainline GOP, is talking about the real meaning behind this message.

  11. C. Clavin says:

    @Kylopod:

    who has supported single-payer health care and large tax increases on the wealthy

    Those are actually Conservative positions.
    They aren’t Republican positions.
    But today’s Republicans are not Conservative.

  12. stonetools says:

    I must say, watching the Republicans today, I feel the same malicious glee a Republican must have felt contemplating the Democrats in 1972. I hope for them the same result in 2016 that the Democrats suffered in 1972 (Yes, I know-don’t be complacent, blah blah blah, but a liberal can dream… ).

  13. Electroman says:

    @C. Clavin: Yes, he is. Back then (9/11/2001) I was still in the military, and that somehow it was all Clinton’s fault was a pretty common view there.

  14. stonetools says:

    @Slugger:

    His hat says “Taking America Back.” Nobody, either Dem or mainline GOP, is talking about the real meaning behind this message.

    Actually, I think just about everyone has figured out that particular dog whistle.

  15. CSK says:

    @stonetools:

    The hat says: “Make America Great Again.”

    You can buy it at the Donald Trump Shop (no kidding) at http://www.donaldjtrump.com

    Is he the only candidate with a souvenir shop?

  16. cian says:

    In my mind the big question is whether middle America will make common cause with the underclass or scapegoat them

    Hard to know what that common cause would look like. Other than hating on immigrants, African Americans and women, I can’t see what else they are interested in. Healthcare for the millions of working poor? I would have thought so, but it seems not (it’s a black guy’s idea). The minimum wage? Sure, but first someone has to get rid of the immigrants and teat sucking blacks. Improving schools, maybe, or increasing educational opportunities, or looking after the climate., All worthy stuff, but of no interest to the 46% of republican voters who support either Trump or Carson. How do I know? because neither of those idiots has expressed an even half sane opinion on anything other than, let’s get rid of coloured people.

  17. gVOR08 says:

    @CSK: Yes. know this because Rand Paul had an online souvey shop. They had beach footwear with Rand logos. They were listed as “Rand Paul Flip Flops”. Very quickly re-listed as “Rand Paul Sandals” following a certain amount of derisive laughter.

  18. michael reynolds says:

    The bigger news is that Hillary is back on top (as I believe I predicted) as a result of the debate. Of course she was always on top, but the media wanted a horse race so we were al supposed to pretend Bernie Sanders is a serious candidate. Gotta have a race! Sadly for them, unless Biden jumps in, the Democratic side is all taken care of. There will be great mourning in the media if Joe stays home.

    My position has been and continues to be that we’ve achieved Peak Trump. He’s stuck at about a quarter of the GOP, and the runner up for that spot is an actual lunatic. The GOP field is led by a fraud and a nut. None of the theoretically “serious” Republicans can consistently hit 15%. In fact, add all the “serious” Republicans together – Rubio, Jeb, Kasich, Christie – and you don’t equal Trump’s 25%.

    The weakness of the establishment GOP Is simply astonishing. They can’t control their nominating process and they can’t elect a Speaker.

    TL;DR: Hillary rules, Jeb drools.

  19. Pinky says:

    @Slugger:

    “Taking America Back.”

    The party out of power always uses this as a slogan. In 2006-7 there were three books written by Democrats named some variation of Taking America Back, including ““Take It Back: Our Party, Our Country, Our Future” by Carville and Begala. Thom Hartmann wrote “We the People: A Call to Take Back America” a few years earlier, in protest against corporations and the Patriot Act. Howard Dean wrote “You Have the Power: How to Take Back Our Country and Restore Democracy in America”. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama spoke at 2006’s National Progressive Conference to Take Back America.

  20. ernieyeball says:

    Meantime JEB! has started blaming Clinton for 9.11, to cover for his brother.

    I was still in the military, and that somehow it was all Clinton’s fault was a pretty common view there.

    I don’t think that anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, take another one and slam it into the Pentagon, that they would try to use an airplane as a missile.
    Condoleezza Rice United States National Security Advisor Press conference, May 16, 2002.

    It should be noted that she did not say:

    I don’t think that anybody except Bill Clinton could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, take another one and slam it into the Pentagon, that they would try to use an airplane as a missile.

    Also note that she was speaking for George II. Brother of Jester JEB!

  21. WR says:

    @ernieyeball: “I don’t think that anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, take another one and slam it into the Pentagon, that they would try to use an airplane as a missile.
    Condoleezza Rice United States National Security Advisor Press conference, May 16, 2002.”

    And yet somehow I was not only able to think of this, but to write it into an unproduced CBS pilot in the late 90s (for Stan Lee!) and actually air it in the two-part series finale of Martial Law in 2000.

    Maybe I should have been NSA…

  22. Mikey says:

    An interesting take from WaPo’s Wonkblog:

    I asked psychologists to analyze Trump supporters. This is what I learned.

    From a psychological perspective, though, the people backing Trump are perfectly normal. Interviews with psychologists and other experts suggest one explanation for the candidate’s success — and for the collective failure to anticipate it: The political elite hasn’t confronted a few fundamental, universal and uncomfortable facts about the human mind.

    We like people who talk big.

    We like people who tell us that our problems are simple and easy to solve, even when they aren’t.

    And we don’t like people who don’t look like us.

  23. humanoid.panda says:

    @WR: And yet somehow I was not only able to think of this, but to write it into an unproduced CBS pilot in the late 90s (for Stan Lee!) and actually air it in the two-part series finale of Martial Law in 2000.

    Tom Clancy also had the same thought..

  24. CSK says:

    @Mikey:

    The psychologists should have added as a fourth descriptor: “And we will turn like a pack of snarling rabid wolves on our guy the moment he fails to fulfill every single one of his patently absurd promises.”

  25. DK says:

    @michael reynolds: Wow, the Rethuglicans are in complete disarray now that their phony, self-serving Emailghazi witch hunt has fallen apart. How happy is Hillary right now? She won the debate handily, her poll numbers are rising big, and thus now there’s no rationale for a Biden candidacy. Three Republicans — two GOP congressmen and a whistleblower investigator — have admitted the Benghazi committee is a sham, abusing tragedy for political purposes.

    And now, Benghazi committee chair Trey Gowdy has been called out by the CIA for the lie that Hillary sent classified information, confirming that the agent’s identity was cleared for release and revealing that Gowdy redacted the information himself to smear Hillary.

    Republicans are a total joke.

  26. DrDaveT says:

    @WR:

    And yet somehow I was not only able to think of this, but to write it into an unproduced CBS pilot in the late 90s (for Stan Lee!) and actually air it in the two-part series finale of Martial Law in 2000.

    The late Adam Hall (Elleston Trevor) was way ahead of you. The indescribably awesome Quiller dealt with this scenario in The Tango Briefing (1973). It was nerve gas and the White House, but the idea has been out there a long time…

  27. DrDaveT says:

    A pair of new polls confirms that Republican hopes that Donald Trump would fade are failing to come true.

    Are we there yet, Mommy?

    Seriously — we’re 2 miles into the marathon, and some Belgian 10k specialist is in the lead! How is this possible!? Everyone says he will fade, but 300 yards later he’s still in the lead!

    Sigh. If Trump is still leading the polls in May, you have a story.

  28. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @DrDaveT: This! Exactly!
    It’s too early for there to be an anti-Trump wave. That will show up when people actually go into the voting booth or show up at their neighbor’s house on caucus night. People get get to be “mad as hell and not…put[ting] up with it anymore” for at least 2 or 3 more months.

  29. Turgid Jacobian says:

    @humanoid.panda: Also the writers of The Lone Gunmen

  30. Kylopod says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Those are actually Conservative positions.

    Can you elaborate on that?

  31. ernieyeball says:

    @WR: @DrDaveT:
    Well someone better round up all the copies of the 1976 disaster flick Two-Minute Warning and the 1977 exploitation film Black Sunday before
    Super Bowl 50 next February or we will be up to our asses in alligators for sure.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0075359/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_55

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0075765/?ref_=tt_trv_trv

  32. Facebones says:

    I, for one, look forward to James’ tortured rationale as to why he will vote for Trump over Hillary.

  33. Mikey says:

    @DrDaveT:

    If Trump is still leading the polls in May, you have a story.

    He could become “inevitable” long before May, if his current trend continues.

    If he’s still on top after Christmas, February victories in Iowa and New Hampshire are likely. I’ve no doubt Trump will win in South Carolina on February 20. Then comes Super Tuesday on March 1, and a strong showing that day will create huge (yuuuuge!) momentum for him. That could lead to a psychological “tipping point” in the GOP electorate where they see him as the inevitable nominee and consequently throw their support behind him, causing the not-Trumps to wither and fall.

    Working against this would be the GOP “establishment.” Byron York was on my local conservative talker this morning and he said the “establishment” Republicans with whom he’s spoken told him if Trump is still on top in January they are going to start saturating the early primary states with negative ads and spending boatloads of money trying to keep him from winning.

    Pretty much civil war within the GOP as the party establishment fights to take down the likely nominee. Who’s bringing the popcorn?

  34. Pinky says:

    @Mikey: Not necessarily. Think about the 2004 Democratic Primary – see the graph on the following page

    http://www.pollster.com/blogs/primary_polling_primer_timing.html

  35. Mikey says:

    @Pinky: Certainly if another candidate were to win in NH or IA things could change a lot, which is why the GOP “establishment” will do all it can to prevent Trump winning the early primaries. If they can eke out a Rubio (for example, it could be another) victory in one or both, it would put a sizable brake on Trump’s momentum.

    Early primary wins don’t grant inevitability, of course, but they impart a great forward “push” and that’s the last thing the GOP establishment wants Trump to get.

  36. Todd says:

    Reading comment threads like this, with Democrats gleeful about the prospect of running against Trump only makes me more depressed and worried about what the world is going to look like after January 2017.

  37. Mikey says:

    @Todd: What makes me depressed and worried is one of our two major political parties having a very realistic chance of selecting Donald Trump as its nominee.

  38. wr says:

    @humanoid.panda: “Tom Clancy also had the same thought..”

    And it’s a safe bet he got paid a lot more for it than I did!

  39. wr says:

    @ernieyeball: I’m sure the US has a contingency plan for attack by blimp…