In a battle for top dog between anti-establishment Republicans amid party unrest over its choices, a Monmouth University Poll of likely Iowa Republican caucus-goers today finds that former neurosurgeon Ben Carson has assumed a double digit lead over real estate tycoon Donald Trump.
The results represent a jump by Carson past Trump; while New Jersey Governor Chris Christie fails to register.
According to today’s poll, when Iowa Republicans are asked who they would support in their local caucus, Carson (32%) now tops
the list, with Trump (18%) holding second. In Monmouth’s last poll of GOP caucusgoers in August, the two were tied for the top spot at 23% each. The next tier of candidates includes Ted Cruz (10%), Marco Rubio (10%), and Jeb Bush (8%). They are followed by Carly Fiorina (5%), Rand Paul (3%), Mike Huckabee (2%), Bobby Jindal (2%), and John Kasich (2%). None of the other five candidates – including Christie – tested topped 1%.
Compared to two months ago, Carson is up by 9 points and Rubio is up by 6 points. Trump has dropped by 5 points and Fiorina’s share of the vote has also decreased by 5 points. Carson’s support has gone up among all ideological groups. He now leads Trump by 9 points (31%-22%) among very conservative voters compared to a single point two months ago and by 21 points (39%-18%) among somewhat conservative voters compared to 2 points in August. He also has a 17 point (29%-12%) lead among moderate to liberal voters, which is a reversal since the prior poll when he trailed Trump by 9 points (17%-26%) among this group.
Carson maintains a 36% to 18% lead over Trump among evangelical Christian voters, which is somewhat larger than the 29% to 23% advantage he held two months ago. However, Carson also holds a 28% to 19% edge among non-evangelicals, reversing an 18% to 24% deficit in August. Carson’s 34% to 17% lead over Trump among women is similar to his 30% to 19% advantage two months ago. He now leads among men as well, 31% to 20%, which wipes out the 17% to 27% deficit he had to Trump in the prior poll.
“Trump’s support has eroded in a number of key areas, with the beneficiary being another outside candidate. One question is how secure Carson’s new found support really is,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch.
Just 1-in-5 (19%) Iowa GOP caucus-goers say they are completely set on their choice, although this is up from 12% two months ago. Another 43% say they have a strong preference right now, 19% have a slight preference, and 18% are really undecided. Three-in-ten voters say they would be either very unhappy (11%) or a little unhappy (19%) if their chosen candidate did not win the Republican nomination, but most (52%) would be okay if someone else was the GOP standard bearer. There are few significant differences in these findings by candidate support.
“While the leaderboard positions have changed, the outsider candidates still dominate this race. The GOP’s leadership may hope that an establishment figure will emerge, but that may not happen while their voters remain dissatisfied with the party as a whole,” said Murray.
Nearly 6-in-10 (57%) Iowa caucus-goers say that the national Republican Party does a bad job representing the concerns of voters like them. Just 32% say it does a good job. Majorities of very conservative (60%), somewhat conservative (56%), and moderate to liberal (52%) voters alike say the national party does a bad job representing them.
The poll found that Ben Carson continues to hold the best voter rating in the field at 84% favorable and 7% unfavorable, which is basically unchanged from August (81% – 6%). Donald Trump’s rating is 53% favorable and 38% unfavorable. Trump’s positive rating is basically the same as in August (52%), but his negative rating has increased by 5 points from 33%.
Other candidates with positive voter ratings include Marco Rubio (65% favorable – 16% unfavorable), Carly Fiorina (63% – 18%), Ted Cruz (59% – 24%), Bobby Jindal (56% – 23%), and Mike Huckabee (52% – 33%). Jeb Bush receives a negative rating of 42% favorable and 46% unfavorable, but that is improved from 32% – 51% two months ago. Negative ratings are also given to John Kasich (31% – 35%), Rand Paul (32% – 49%), and Christie (30% – 53%).
Monmouth University’s Polling Institute conducted the poll by telephone from October 22 to 25, 2015 with 400 Iowa voters likely to attend the Republican presidential caucuses in February 2016. This sample has a margin of error of +4.9 percent.
- Who would you support if the presidential caucus was being held today and the candidates for the Republican nomination were – [NAMES WERE ROTATED]