Trump Still Leads in Iowa; Fiorina on Fire; Paul Tanking

| Tom Jensen

PPP’s newest Iowa poll finds Donald Trump leading the Republican field in the state even after a weekend of controversy. He’s at 19% to 12% for Ben Carson and Scott Walker, 11% for Jeb Bush, 10% for Carly Fiorina, 9% for Ted Cruz, and 6% for Mike Huckabee and Marco Rubio.

The other 9 candidates are all clustered between 3% and having no support at all (George Pataki)- John Kasich and Rand Paul are at 3%, Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum at 2%, Chris Christie at 1%, and Jim Gilmore, Lindsey Graham, and Pataki all have less than 1%.

PPP last polled Iowa in April and at that time Trump had a 40/40 favorability rating with GOP voters. On this poll his favorability is 46/40, not substantially better than it four months ago. That suggests Trump’s favorability could be back on the way down after peaking sometime in the last few weeks. But at any rate Trump does have the advantage with pretty much every segment of the GOP electorate- he’s up with Evangelicals, men, women, voters in every age group, moderates, voters who are most concerned with having the candidate who is most conservative on the issues, and voters who are most concerned about having a candidate who can win the general election.

The biggest winner coming out of the debate looks to be Carly Fiorina. Her favorability rating is now 56/15, compared to 30/15 when we polled Iowa in April. She was such a nonfactor the last time we polled that we didn’t even bother to include her in the horse race question but now she’s at 10% and in the top 5. Fiorina also ties with Walker as the most frequent 2nd choice of GOP voters at 11%. 

Besides Fiorina the only other candidate who seems to have any momentum is Carson. He was at 5% in April and has seen his support go up by 5 points to its new 12% standing. Carson is also the most popular candidate in the field, with a 69/10 favorability rating. That’s up from a 44/15 spread in April.

The biggest loser in the poll is Rand Paul. He now has a negative favorability rating at 31/45. That gives him the worst numbers of anyone in the field, outdistancing even Chris Christie on the unpopularity front. Paul’s 3% standing represents a drop all the way down from 10% in April. Paul’s been foundering anyway, and his campaign’s ties to the Kent Sorenson mess are probably making things particularly bad for him in Iowa.

Besides Paul the candidate worst off in this poll is Christie. He’s never been strong in Iowa- he was at 5% in April- but now he’s polling in asterisk territory at 1%. Christie’s overall image has actually improved- he’s still unpopular with a 34/44 favorability rating but that’s better than 28/50 in April- but he may be losing voters who value his tough talk style to Trump.

Scott Walker (from 23% to 12%), Marco Rubio (from 13% to 6%), and Mike Huckabee (from 10% to 6%) all saw sizable drops in their support over the last four months. The good news for them though is that they’re still among the most popular candidates in the state, right behind Carson. Rubio’s favorability is 66/15, Huckabee’s is 64/20, and Walker’s is 63/17. Being so well liked positions all of them well to potentially benefit as other candidates falter further down the line. Walker is tied with Fiorina as the most frequent 2nd choice of voters at 11% and Rubio is in double digits on that front as well at 10%. Still it has to be pretty embarrassing for Huckabee to trail Trump 18 to 9 with evangelicals.

Jeb Bush (12% in April, 11% now) and Ted Cruz (8% in April, 9% now) are both holding pretty steady. And despite his support for the nomination being flat, voters are warming up to Bush some- his 45/32 favorability is an improvement from 38/37 in the spring.

Other quick notes from Iowa:

-Although they have minimal support for the nomination at this point Bobby Jindal (59/14 favorability), Rick Perry (56/23), and Rick Santorum (55/22) are all quite well liked by Iowa Republican voters. They could do better later on in the race.

-Showing basically no hope at all are Jim Gilmore, Lindsey Graham, and George Pataki. They’re all polling at 0. Gilmore (20% name recognition) and Pataki (39% name recognition) are unknown to a majority of voters, and Graham (22/33 fav) is disliked by the voters who are familiar with him.

-The biggest winner in this poll might be Thursday night’s debate. 62% of voters claim to have watched it live on TV, with another 23% saying they saw clips from it on the news. People tend to over report the extent to which they watched things like this but those are still pretty impressive numbers.

On the Democratic side Hillary Clinton leads with 52% to 25% for Bernie Sanders, 7% for Martin O’Malley, 3% for Jim Webb, and 1% for Lincoln Chafee. That represents a decent amount of tightening since April- Sanders’ support has increased from 14% to 25%, with Clinton’s dropping correspondingly from 62% to 52%.

It’s not that Democrats are souring on Clinton- her 75/15 favorability rating now is pretty similar to its 78/16 standing in April. But Sanders is definitely catching fire as voters become more familiar with him- his favorability is 61/14, up from 40/16 on the previous poll. As Democrats get to know him they’re pretty much completely deciding that they like him.

Clinton continues to be pretty dominant with ‘somewhat liberal’ voters (57/22), moderates (54/18), women (56/21), and seniors (58/19). The group where it’s closer are ‘very liberal’ voters (49/39), men (47/30), and younger voters (46/31).

Full results here

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