Donald Trump has increased his GOP vote share since last month’s debate. The latest Monmouth University Poll of Republican voters nationwide also finds Ben Carson moving into second place, Jeb Bush slipping to third, and Scott Walker fading into the background. The poll also tested Trump directly against nine opponents in head-to-head match-ups and found that only Carson is able to get the better of him.
When Republicans and Republican-leaning voters are asked who they would support for the GOP nomination for president, Donald Trump leads the pack at 30%, which is up 4 points from early August before the first debate. Ben Carson (18%) has increased his vote share by 13 points and now holds second place. Jeb Bush (8%) has dropped by 4 points and now stands in a tie for third with Ted Cruz (8%). Following behind are Marco Rubio (5%), Carly Fiorina (4%), and Mike Huckabee (4%).
Scott Walker (3%), who held third place in Monmouth’s August poll, has dropped 8 points since then. Chris Christie, John Kasich, and Rand Paul each get 2%. The remaining six candidates included in the poll score no higher than 1% each.
“None of the establishment candidates is having any success in getting an anti-Trump vote to coalesce around them. In fact, any attempt to take on Trump directly only seems to make him stronger,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch.
The Monmouth University Poll tested the strength of Donald Trump’s support by presenting Republican voters with nine hypothetical head-to-head match-ups. Trump tops the field in all but one of those contests. If it came down to just two candidates, Trump beats the putative establishment favorite Jeb Bush by a 56% to 37% margin. Trump also gets the better of Chris Christie (63% to 30%), John Kasich (62% to 29%), Rand Paul (60% to 27%), Scott Walker (53% to 38%), Marco Rubio (52% to 38%), Carly Fiorina (50% to 37%), and Ted Cruz (48% to 41%). The only candidate who is able to take on The Donald and win is Ben Carson, who gets 55% support to 36% for Trump in a hypothetical match-up.
“The fact that the only one who can challenge Trump is the only other candidate who has never held or run for elected office speaks volumes to the low regard GOP voters have for the establishment,” said Murray.
By a more than 2-to-1 margin, Republican voters nationwide say the country needs a president from outside government who can bring a new approach to Washington (67%) rather than someone with government experience who knows how to get things done (26%).
Murray added, “Conservative activists believe the Republican Party has abandoned its principles. Moderates feel their leadership is ineffective. So Republican voters have created their own job description for the next nominee – Wanted: Someone who can shake up Washington; No elected officials need apply.”
As with Monmouth’s August poll, Trump continues to dominate all Republican demographic groups in voter support, with Ben Carson now placing second in most cases:
- Ideology – Trump (28%), Carson (20%), and Cruz (17%) are the top vote getters among very conservative voters; Trump (29%) leads Carson (21%) among somewhat conservative voters; and Trump (34%) has a commanding edge over Carson (14%) and Bush (11%) among moderate to liberal voters.
- Tea Party – Tea Party supporters back Trump (36%) by a wide margin over Carson (19%) and Cruz (15%). Non-Tea Party supporters give Trump (28%) a narrower edge over Carson (17%).
- Age – Trump (34%) has a clear lead over Carson (17%) among voters under age 50 as well as an advantage (28%) over Carson (18%), Cruz (11%), and Bush (10%) among those age 50 and older.
- Gender – Trump holds a wide lead over Carson among men (37% to 18%) and a smaller lead among women (23% to 18%).
The Monmouth University Poll also found that GOP voter opinion of Donald Trump has ticked up another notch in the past month. It now stands at 59% favorable to 29% unfavorable. It was 52% favorable to 35% unfavorable four weeks ago, and as recently as June, it stood at a significantly negative 20% favorable to 55% unfavorable.
Ben Carson’s rating has also gone up, now standing at 67% favorable to 6% unfavorable, compared with 45% to 10% just before the first debate. Carly Fiorina, who received positive reviews for her performance in the “Happy Hour” debate – and is on track to be added to the main stage for this month’s debate – also saw her numbers go up. She now has a 43% favorable to 13% unfavorable rating, compared with 30% to 11% last month. However, 43% of Republican voters nationwide still have no opinion of her.
John Kasich, who just made it onto the main debate stage last month, has not seen his national numbers move much at all. He gets a 23% favorable to 18% unfavorable rating, which is slightly lower than the 27% to 14% rating he earned in August. Nearly 6-in-10 (59%) GOP voters continue to have no opinion of him.
Both Jeb Bush and Scott Walker have seen their personal ratings decline in the past month. Republican voter opinion of Bush now stands at 41% favorable to 39% unfavorable, compared with 52% to 30% last month. Walker’s rating is 42% favorable to 15% unfavorable, compared with 50% to 10% last month.
The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from August 31 to September 2, 2015 with 1,009 adults in the United States. This release is based on a sample of 366 registered voters who identify themselves as Republicans or lean toward the Republican Party. This voter sample has a margin of error of +5.1 percent. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch.