PPP's newest national Republican primary poll finds Donald Trump holding his largest lead yet in the wake of Tuesday night's debate. He's at 34% to 18% for Ted Cruz, 13% for Marco Rubio, 7% for Jeb Bush, 6% for Ben Carson, 5% for Chris Christie, 4% each for Carly Fiorina and Mike Huckabee, 2% each for John Kasich and Rand Paul, 1% each for Lindsey Graham and Rick Santorum, and less than 1% each for Jim Gilmore and George Pataki.
Trump is the biggest gainer since our last national poll in mid-November, going from 26% to 34%. He's also become more broadly popular with GOP voters, with his favorability rating going from 51/37 up to 58/34. Trump's hold on the Republican electorate holds true with most segments of the party. He leads with 36% among voters most concerned with having a nominee who's conservative on the issues, and with 34% among voters most concerned about being able to beat a Democrat in the fall. He leads among both Evangelicals with 35%, and among non-Evangelicals with 33%. He leads with both women (34%) and men (also 34%). He leads with both younger voters (38%) and seniors (32%).
There are only 2 groups of the electorate Trump doesn't lead with- the closely related groups of Tea Party and 'very conservative' voters. Cruz has the upper hand with each of those. He's at 38% with 'very conservative' voters to 32% for Trump, with no one else getting more than 8%. And he's at 41% with Tea Party voters to 32% for Trump with no one else getting more than 9%. Cruz has been the second biggest gainer since our last poll, going from 14% to 18%. There are other positive signs for Cruz in the poll. He's the most frequent second choice of GOP voters with 14% picking him on that front to 10% each for Carson and Trump. He's also the second pick of Trump voters specifically (25% to 13% for Carson) so he's well positioned to benefit if Trump ever does falter.
Marco Rubio is really treading water. He was at 13% last month, and he's at 13% this month. He's losing second choice support- 13% said he was their next man up in November, now it's just 9%. Rubio has also seen a pretty big drop in his net favorability rating among GOP primary voters- it's gone from +30 at 55/25 in November to now +15 at 49/34. He's certainly still in the top tier but if anything his position is weakening rather than getting stronger.
Ben Carson's moment now really appears to have passed. He's dropped down to 6%, after being at 19% in mid-November. Interestingly his favorability rating has barely budged- it was 61/24 last month and it's 61/26 this month. But increasingly even though GOP voters continue to really like Carson, they no longer see him as Presidential material.
Notes on other candidates: