A new poll shows GOP voters are no closer to picking a front-runner from among a crowded and growing Republican presidential field, with retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson emerging with a narrow lead over 15 potential rivals.
Carson topped the 2016 field with 11% support from Republican and Republican-leaning voters, according to a national Monmouth University poll released Monday. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was a close second with 10%, followed by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who were tied at 9%.
The biggest winner of all, however, was a blank: Twenty percent of surveyed voters said they were undecided.
The Monmouth poll showed no clear cutoff between first- and second-tier candidates, an emerging problem for Republican party leaders as television networks debate which of the dozen-plus candidates should appear onstage for upcoming GOP debates. Plans by Fox News and CNN to feature only the top 10 candidates in an average of national polls has come under fire from critics who say the differences between many candidates is statistically insignificant.
Rounding out the top 10 in the latest national poll was former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (8%), Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (6%), Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (5%), New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (4%), former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (4%), and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (3%). Businesswoman Carly Fiorina, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and businessman Donald Trump each received 2% support, while Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Ohio Gov. John Kasich received just 1%. Former New York Gov. George Pataki found zero support in the Monmouth poll.
Compared to a previous Monmouth survey taken in April, Monday’s poll shows growing support for Carson and Rubio, who gained four points each. Cruz dropped six points, Trump five, and Bush – who was set to officially announce his candidacy Monday – fell by four. The percentage of undecided Republican voters rose six points.