In a competitive, 17-candidate presidential field, it’s genuinely difficult for any contender to reach 30% – the scale of the competition tends to spread support out more broadly. And yet, here we are.
Donald Trump has become the first Republican presidential candidate to top 30% support in the race for the Republican nomination, according to a new CNN/ORC Poll, which finds the businessman pulling well away from the rest of the GOP field.
A variety of political observers – including, in all candor, me – keep making assumptions about Trump’s polling ceiling, and soon after, the New York developer finds new ways to break through that ceiling and reach new heights.
The new, national CNN poll puts the race for the GOP nomination this way:
1. Donald Trump: 32% (up eight points since mid-August)
2. Ben Carson: 19% (up 10 points)
3. Jeb Bush: 9% (down four points)
4. Ted Cruz: 7% (up two points)
5. Mike Huckabee: 5% (up one point)
5. Scott Walker: 5% (down three points)
From there, every other Republican is below 5%, with Marco Rubio dropping from 8% to 3%, and John Kasich falling from 5% to 2%.
Note, Trump and Carson are not only the sole candidates whose support reached double digits in this poll, their combined support is now 51% – despite the fact that neither of these GOP candidates has ever served a day in public office.
Also note, as recently as June, Jeb Bush’s national support in this poll was 17%. In the months since, his backing has been cut nearly in half.
And while these top-line results are striking, the question that really stood out for me was this:
“Just your best guess: Regardless of who you support, which Republican candidate do you think is most likely to win the Republican nomination for president next year?”
In late July – just seven weeks ago – 39% of Americans believed Bush would eventually be the Republicans’ presidential nominee. In this latest poll, among all voters 41% said Trump is likely to win the GOP nod, and among Republican voters, 51% said Trump is probably going to prevail.
Note, 32% of Republicans support Trump, but 51% of Republicans expect him to win the nomination – suggesting there are quite a few GOP voters who don’t necessarily intend to vote for Trump, but they nevertheless see him in a strong enough position to advance to the general election.