As the Republican establishment keeps trying to distance itself from Donald Trump, it doesn’t look like voters are on the same page. The New York billionaire is the first choice for more than one out of every three Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters, according to a CNN/ORC poll out Friday.
Trump came away with 36 percent, beating the rest of the field by at least 20 points. The next closest candidate was Texas Sen. Ted Cruz at 16 percent, followed by Dr. Ben Carson at 14 percent and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio at 12 percent. All the rest polled below 5 percent apiece.
This represents another drop for Carson as he continues to slide from his short-lived front-runner status. The retired neurosurgeon from Baltimore has faced increasing doubts over the past few weeks about his foreign policy competence, but neither a last-minute trip to Jordan nor his weak appearance Thursday in front of influential Republican Jewish donors has been successful at reversing his decline.
After the top tier of candidates, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie drew 4 percent support, followed by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Carly Fiorina at 3 percent each, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Ohio Gov. John Kasich at 2 percent and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul at 1 percent.
While this latest poll did not change Bush’s rank among the GOP field, it does mark his lowest national polling score to date, according to Real Clear Politics polling data.
When the conversation turned to issues, majorities or pluralities of voters said Trump is the best-qualified candidate to tackle any topic, including the economy (where he received 55 percent), illegal immigration (48 percent), foreign policy (30 percent), the Islamic State (46 percent) and the federal budget (51 percent). Cruz came in second in every category except illegal immigration, where Rubio nabbed 14 percent. No other candidate broke into double digits.
Republicans also think Trump has the best shot at winning the general election, according to the poll. A majority of 52 percent chose him as the top GOP candidate for the general, and a plurality of 42 percent said he would be most effective at solving issues facing the country. Another 37 percent thought he would be the best candidate to handle the role of commander in chief.
The poll included 445 Republican or Republican-leaning voters, and was conducted Nov. 27-Dec. 1. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.