Trump Tops Yet Another Poll

Donald Trump remains firmly at the top of of the GOP field in what is likely one of the last polls of the GOP race for 2015.

Trump Announcement

What is likely to be one of the last polls released before we head into the holidays shows Donald Trump with a commanding lead in the race for the Republican Presidential Nomination:

Donald Trump seems set to end 2015 as the dominant force in the race for next year’s Republican nomination for president, with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz now a clear — yet distant — second after a strong debate performance, a new CNN/ORC poll released on Wednesday has found.

Trump tops the field with 39%, according to the poll of Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters. That’s more than double the share backing Cruz, who, at 18%, has inched up 2 points since the last CNN/ORC poll, which was taken in late November.

Trump has been a constant atop the polls since his ascent to the lead in July, and this new poll marks the first time Cruz stands significantly apart from the other candidates vying for the nomination. Behind those two, Ben Carson and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio have each slipped a few points and now stand tied at 10%.

Trump tops the field with 39%, according to the poll of Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters. That’s more than double the share backing Cruz, who, at 18%, has inched up 2 points since the last CNN/ORC poll, which was taken in late November.

Trump has been a constant atop the polls since his ascent to the lead in July, and this new poll marks the first time Cruz stands significantly apart from the other candidates vying for the nomination. Behind those two, Ben Carson and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio have each slipped a few points and now stand tied at 10%.

(…)

The CNN/ORC poll was conducted after the Republican debate hosted by CNN and Facebook in Las Vegas on December 15. Among those Republicans who say they watched, 33% say Trump did the best job in the debate, 28% Cruz, 13% Rubio. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie follows with 6%. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, widely seen as needing a strong debate performance to boost his standing in the polls, was rated best by just 1% of debate watchers.

Six in 10 Republican voters in the poll now say there are one or two candidates they’d prefer to see win over the rest of the field, up from 48% who had identified favorites in July. That consolidation is reflected in voters’ overall preferences. This marks the second CNN/ORC poll in a row in which more than three-quarters of Republicans now support one of the top four candidates (77% choose one of Trump, Cruz, Carson or Rubio), and 57% now support one of the top two candidates. That latter figure marks the highest share for any two candidates combined this cycle.

Trump’s standing in the race for the nomination is bolstered by widely held trust that he can best handle the top issues facing the nation. Trump holds massive advantages over the rest of the field as the candidate best able to handle the economy (57% Trump, his next closest competitors are Cruz at 8%, Rubio at 7%, Carson at 6% and Bush at 5%), illegal immigration (55% trust Trump, followed by Cruz at 15%, Rubio at 10%), and ISIS (47% prefer Trump, 21% Cruz, 7% Bush and 6% Christie).

And Republicans are coming around to the idea that the Republican Party has its best shot at winning the presidency by nominating the New York real estate mogul. Overall, 46% of GOP voters say the Republicans have a better chance to win in 2016 with Trump as the party’s nominee, while 50% say the GOP has a better shot with someone else at the top of the ticket. In August, just 38% said Trump brought the Republicans their best chances.

Perhaps obviously, Trump’s supporters are most likely to think the GOP has its best shot with Trump as its nominee (85% say so), but even among those who aren’t current supporters, 21% think Trump would be better than the alternative.

Among those who say the party has a better shot with someone other than Trump, Cruz is the preferred candidate, 25% would like to see him win the nomination, 16% Rubio, 13% Carson, 9% are Trump backers, 8% Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, 7% Christie and 4% each Bush and Kasich.

This poll comes just a day after the release of a poll from Quinnipiac University that appeared to show Ted Cruz gaining on Trump given the fact that it put the gap between the businessman and the Texas Senator at just four percent, which is inside the polls 4.6% margin of error. Given the fact that we have this poll, along with polls from Public Policy Polling and Fox News Channel, all of which were taken after the latest Republican debate, though, it seems quite possible that the Quinnipiac poll may be something of an outlier that overstates Cruz’s support for one reason or another. That being said, Cruz’s numbers did tick up by two points from the last CNN/ORC poll and there are some good signs for the Texas Senator:

Cruz gained ground on the front-runner on handling illegal immigration and ISIS, both a central focus of the debate’s questions, while Rubio and Carson faded on both issues. Cruz’s favorability rating has jumped 22 points among Republican voters since September, and he now holds the highest favorability rating among Republican voters of any of the seven candidates tested. He’s also posted the largest increase in favorability rating among all adults since September, climbing from 27% favorable in September to 45% now, an 18-point gain. Trump (+8) and Rubio (+14) posted smaller increases.

More Republican voters (62%) say Cruz has the right experience to be president than say so about Trump (57%) or Rubio (53%), and two-thirds say Cruz shares their values and is someone they would be proud to have as president (66% each). Slightly fewer say either sentiment applies to Trump (63% values, 60% proud) or Rubio (64% values, 62% proud).

Outside of Trump and Cruz, perhaps the most interesting thing about the new CNN/ORC poll is the fact that it has Chris Christie at 5%, putting him in fifth place behing Trump, Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Ben Carson. This follows the aforementioned polls from Quinnipiac and PPP which showed him getting 6% and 5% respectively. Prior to these polls, the New Jersey Governor had been moving up in the polling in New Hampshire, but that movement was failing to materialize anywhere else, and most especially in the national polls. These numbers could indicate that Christie’s concentration in New Hampshire, which helped secure him a place on the main debate stage last week, may start paying off nationally, and at very least it seems likely to secure him a place on the main debate stage for the final two debates before voting starts on February 1st. This could give Christie a chance to claim a spot as one of the “establishment” candidates heading deeper into the primary season, especially since other candidates for that role such as Jeb Bush and John Kasich clearly seem to be fading into the distance.

Looking at the poll averages, Trump remains in command of the race for the nomination at the national level as we head into the final week of the year. In the RealClearPolitics average, Trump (35.1%) has a 17 point lead over Ted Cruz (18.1%), with Marco Rubio at third place with an average of 11.5%, Ben Carson in fourth at 10.0%, and Jeb Bush holding onto what is arguably tenuous fifth place at 4.4% given the fact that Chris Christie is now just a half a point behind him with an average 3.9%, a number that is likely to increase if other polling shows the New Jersey Governor moving up in the national polls. After Christie, nobody is averaging above 3%. The trends are essentially the same in the Pollster average.

This CNN/ORC poll may be the last poll of the race for the GOP nomination before the end of the year. If there was anything else conducted after the last debate, it will likely be released before the close of business today, but it’s unlikely that we’ll see anything tomorrow, and there’s most likely not going to be any polling conducted during the week between Christmas and the start of the New Year. So, as we head into the New Year what we see is a poll where Donald Trump is largely in command in the race for the nomination everywhere except Iowa, where Ted Cruz has a narrow lead over Trump thanks to recent polling showing him in the lead there. This will be the battleground on which the final month before voting starts will play out, and where it ends up is anyone’s guess.

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. al-Ameda says:

    In the Real Clear Politics average, Trump (35.1%) has a 17 point lead over Ted Cruz (18.1%), with Marco Rubio at third place with an average of 11.5%, Ben Carson in fourth at 10.0%,

    Interesting, Rubio + Carson + Cruz = about 40%. Jeb Bush is close to being burnt toast.

    I presume that Carson’s 10% will go to Cruz, but you never know, it could be that Carson’s support is more oriented toward the “he speaks his mind” crew, than the “America is a Christian country,” crew.

  2. JohnMcC says:

    Well, I guess the pre-Christmas maneuvering is drawing to a close with Mr Trump the absolute victor in the R-party. Whowoddanode? After the nation sleeps off another feast and awakens to politics we’ll see if Mr Trump has assembled a competent team to turn out caucusers and voters and win in the non-election states where Barack won so lop-sidedly in ’08.

    What a story would be happening in front of our eyes if a lack of management is what does in the Trump campaign!

  3. DrDaveT says:

    Among 438 registered voters either Republican or leaning Republican:
    74% mad as a hatter*
    21% establishment** (max 10% any single candidate)
    5% WTF / whatever / none of the above

    That’s not ‘disarray’… That’s party Armageddon.

    *Trump, Cruz, Carson, Huckabee, Paul, Fiorina, Santorum
    ** Rubio, Christie, Bush, Kasich, Graham

  4. Tony W says:

    @al-Ameda: The Carson people I know are 100% evangelicals.

  5. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Good.

    The defeat will be even sweeter.

    Please continue, candidate…

  6. Jim Henley says:

    Gah! Everyone on Earth has to stop mistakenly marveling at polling leads “within the margin of error.” You know what it really means that Cruz is behind by 4 percentage points in a poll with a 4.6% margin of error? It means that Cruz is behind by 4 percentage points.

    “Statistical ties” are a myth. In mathematical terms, there is a small chance, according to the margin of error, that Ted Cruz is “really” leading by 0.6 percentage points. There is exactly as much chance that Cruz is “really” trailing by 8.6 percentage points. That’s how confidence-based intervals work.

  7. de stijl says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Trump, Cruz, Carson

    The majority of Republicans polled hate the Republican Party. They want to destroy and then remake the Republican Party in their image. Supporting Trump or Cruz or Carson means that you have no desire to even be in a political party anymore. There are no unifying policy concerns. It’s just turtles all the way down.

    To riff on another OTB post,

    Republicans Say They Want A “Conservative” Presidential Nominee

    Trump or Cruz or Carson are not conservative, they are radical right-wing reactionaries.

    Trump is a cheap, dime-store American Mussolini. 2nd gen money tends towards assholishness and abrasive over-entitlement as the coping method. Check and check, ding and ding; the man is a predictable as the sunrise.

    Cruz is the most hated man in the Senate, especially by other Republicans. He has brains – he clerked for Rehnquiist, was a champion debater. But the man has zero political tactical sense (see government shut-down 2013 edition).

    Carson is, what … a neurosurgeon who thinks that Obama is a secret Muslim who hates America and by saying those things out loud at the Presidential Prayer Breakfast in front of the man makes you a truth-to-power Hero.

    Ben, it doesn’t. My mom believes those things and says those things and she’s a political imbecile. Believe me, my mom is not Presidential material. Saying provocative, false statements in front of strangers doesn’t mean you’re bound for the big chair, my friend. It means that you either believe in baseless conspiracy theories, or you pretend to believe in conspiracy theories for rank political benefit. You’re either gullible or craven.

    Apparently, being a loud-mouthed dick means that you’re a top tier R candidate.

    That’s the criteria now.

    Arguably, I’m conservative. I think things through. I’m a steady hand. I try my best to be a prudent steward of both my present and my future. Outside of my predilection towards car-camping road trips through wide open spaces and my twice yearly psilosybin experience, for 48 weeks out 52 I prefer a safe and predictable life experience.

    The likelihood that I would ever vote for a Republican candidate is zero.

    I’m never going to vote for the candidate that is in favor of a massive and radical re-ordering of the world.

    The new definition of Republican is radical, right-wing, reactionary, loud-mouthed, ill-mannered dick. Good luck with that.