Ben Carson watches as Donald Trump takes the stage during the CNBC Republican presidential debate at the University of Colorado, Oct. 28, 2015, in Boulder, Colo.
Photo by Mark J. Terrill/AP

Latest polls point to dominant Republican top tier

It’s no longer quite as easy to say, “There’s all kinds of time” in response to presidential campaign polling. In July, the line makes sense. In November – the Iowa caucuses are now 90 days away – it’s a little tougher.
 
It’s not that the candidates are locked into their current slots. Rather, the point is that the race’s early phase is shrinking in our rear-view mirrors and voters who intend to help choose the next president are starting to take stock of their choices in earnest.
 
With this in mind, consider the new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, measuring Republican voters’ preferences at the national level.
 
1. Ben Carson: 29% (up seven points since mid-October)
2, Donald Trump: 23% (down two points)
3. Marco Rubio: 11% (down two points)
4. Ted Cruz: 10% (up one point)
5. Jeb Bush: 8% (unchanged)
 
The remaining candidates each had support at 3% or lower, including Carly Fiorina, who has seen her standing drop quickly from 11% to 3% over the last two months.
 
Carson’s 29% backing is the strongest showing for any Republican in any NBC/WSJ poll this year.
 
Note, the poll was conducted between Oct. 25 and 29, which means the survey was in the field for a few days before last week’s debate, as well as the day after.
 
Rubio, celebrated by pundits as the GOP’s obvious nominee, has seen his support drop a little, at least in this poll, and he’s still not close to the 18% support the Florida senator received in April. What’s more, the combined support of Rubio, Cruz, and Jeb Bush would merely tie Carson.
 
The results are just as interesting at the state level.
 
Public Policy Polling, for example, released these results out of Iowa yesterday afternoon.
 
1. Donald Trump: 22% (down two points from September)
2. Ben Carson: 21% (up four points)
3. Ted Cruz: 14% (up six points)
4. Marco Rubio: 10% (up two points)
 
The remaining candidates had support of 6% or lower, though it’s worth emphasizing that Bobby Jindal, relegated to afterthought status for much of the race, saw his support climb from 4% to 6%, which puts the far-right Louisiana governor slightly ahead of Jeb Bush and Carly Fiorina in the PPP Iowa poll. (Fiorina’s backing collapsed from 13% to 5% over the course of about six weeks.)
 
Cruz, meanwhile, is the big mover in the Hawkeye State, where his support has nearly doubled since September and he now leads among all non-amateur candidates.
 
And finally, there’s the latest Monmouth poll out of New Hampshire.
 
1. Donald Trump: 26% (down two points from September)
2. Ben Carson: 16% (down one point)
3. Marco Rubio: 13% (up nine points)
4. John Kasich: 11% (unchanged)
5. Ted Cruz: 9% (up one point)
6. Jeb Bush: 7% (unchanged)
 
The remaining candidates had support of 5% or lower.
 
Note, Rubio’s support in the Granite State nearly tripled, but that’s partly because his standing was so low before. Bush, meanwhile, has invested heavily in New Hampshire, but his efforts don’t appear to be moving the needle much.
 
As for the bigger picture, Rubio’s super PAC provided a memo to donors late last week, arguing there are “really only four candidates with a reasonable chance of becoming the Republican nominee: Senator Marco Rubio, Dr. Ben Carson, Donald Trump, and Senator Ted Cruz.” Given the latest polling, that assessment is starting to look quite fair.
 
 

Ben Carson, Donald Trump, Iowa, Marco Rubio, New Hampshire, Polling and Ted Cruz

Latest polls point to dominant Republican top tier