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:
-The candidate with the highest favorability rating nationally right now is actually…Mike Huckabee who comes in at 63/19. It’s not translating to a ton of support for the nomination- 4% say he’s their first choice, 6% say he’s their second choice. But he may be a darkhorse to pick up some steam later given how at least broadly popular he is.
-Lindsey Graham (22/50) has managed to pass Jeb Bush (34/49) for having the highest negatives in the GOP field nationally. Bush has seen a slight increase in his support for the nomination from 5% to 7%. He continues to have struggles on the right though- only 20% of ‘very conservative’ voters see him favorably to 64% with a negative opinion and only 3% within that group support him for the nomination. Joining Bush and Graham with upside down favorability ratings among GOP voters are Rand Paul (34/44) and John Kasich (26/40).
-Chris Christie continues to slowly but surely creep back into the race. He has a 49/30 favorability rating now, up all the way from 28/54 in late August. It’s a reminder that things can change a lot over time and some of the candidates seen as being dead right now could come back to life and some of the candidates who it seems like can’t do anything wrong right now could come crashing back down. Christie’s support for the nomination has seen a small bump from 3% to 5%.
A lot of people thought Donald Trump’s support might come crashing down after he announced support for a ban on Muslims entering the United States last week but that position, as well as a lot of the other things Trump has said recently, is broadly popular within the GOP:
-54% support Trump’s proposed Muslim ban, to only 25% who oppose it. Among Trump’s own supporters there’s 82/5 support for it. Cruz voters favor it as well, 57/25. Rubio voters are pretty evenly divided on it with 39% in favor and 40% opposed, while Bush voters oppose it 21/37.
-46% support a national database of Muslims, to only 37% opposed. Trump voters support this 66/15 but voters for the other top candidates are more closely divided- Cruz’s (40/41) and Rubio’s (44/45) narrowly oppose it while Bush’s (36/49) do by a wider spread.
-36% think thousands of Arabs in New Jersey cheered when the World Trade Center collapsed to 35% who don’t think that happened. Supporters of Trump (49/24) and Cruz (47/22) both pretty firmly think that occurred while Bush (37/51) and Rubio (22/46) voters don’t think it did.
-Only 28% of GOP primary voters go so far as to think mosques in the United States should be shut down to 47% opposed to that. Trump voters are on an island on that issue- they support it 45/28 but backers of Cruz (23/40) and especially Rubio (18/66) and Bush (14/68) are strongly against it.
-Supporters of most of the major GOP candidates agree with the basic premise that Islam should be legal in the United States- it’s 59/21 with Cruz voters, 67/11 with Bush voters, and 77/10 with Rubio voters. Trump supporters are off on their own on that one too though- just 33% think Islam should be legal to 42% who think it should be illegal. Overall 53% of primary voters think Islam should be allowed to just 26% who don’t think it should be.
To put some of these findings about real modern day issues and Trump voters in context, 41% of his voters think Japanese internment was a good thing, to 37% who don’t. And 41% of his supporters would favor bombing Agrabah to only 9% who are opposed to doing that. Agrabah is the country from Aladdin. Overall 30% of Republican primary voters say they support bombing it to 13% who are opposed. We asked the same question of Democrats, and 36% of them opposed bombing Agrabah to 19% in support.
Speaking of the Democrats things are pretty stable on their side. Hillary Clinton leads with 56% to 28% for Bernie Sanders and 9% for Martin O’Malley. Clinton has dropped slightly since our last poll from 59% to 56%, while Sanders (26% to 28%) and O’Malley (7% to 9%) have each seen 2 point gains in their support. Clinton leads with every group we track. The race is closer among younger voters (50/35), white voters (51/33), and ‘very liberal’ voters (55/36). Clinton has more dominant advantages with seniors (68/21), African Americans (67/17), and voters who identify as just ‘somewhat liberal’ (65/23).
Full results here