Republican U.S. presidential candidates pose for a group photo before the start of the second official Republican presidential candidates debate in Simi Valley, Calif. on Sept. 16, 2015.
Photo by Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

Trump’s polls have only gone in one direction - until now

For much of the summer, the polls in the Republican presidential race have moved in one direction: Donald Trump building on his previous leads, gathering additional support from GOP voters.
But as every financial-firm commercial is required to tell you, past performance is not indicative of future results. MSNBC’s Benjy Sarlin reported yesterday on an interesting new CNN poll.
The first major national poll since the second GOP debate finds Carly Fiorina surging into a second place and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s campaign in total collapse.
The survey by CNN of 444 registered Republican voters put Donald Trump in first place with 24% support, a drop of 8 points since their last poll, and Fiorina in second place with 15%. Fiorina earned plaudits on the right for her debate performance, which included multiple clashes with Trump, although fact checkers pointed out that she vividly cited footage from a hidden camera video of Planned Parenthood that does not appear to exist.
Here’s the latest rundown:
1. Donald Trump: 24% (down eight points from early September)
2. Carly Fiorina: 15% (up 12 points)
3. Ben Carson: 14% (down five points)
4. Marco Rubio: 11% (up eight points)
5. Jeb Bush: 9% (unchanged)
6. Ted Cruz: 6% (down one point)
6. Mike Huckabee: 6% (up one point)
8. Rand Paul: 4% (up one point)
9. Chris Christie: 3% (up one point)
10. John Kasich: 2% (unchanged)
If you’re noticing Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) absence, you’re not alone. The far-right governor is tied for 12th place with – I kid you not – less than 1% support.
In fact, in CNN polling, if a candidate’s support is .5 or greater, that total is rounded up the next closest percentage point (5.5% becomes 6%; 10.5% becomes 11%, and so on). In Walker’s case, his support is listed simply as an asterisk, which means he’s registering support below 0.5%, tying him with Bobby Jindal, Jim Gilmore, Lindsey Graham, and George Pataki.
There was a time, not too long ago, that Team Jindal would have been thrilled beyond words to be tied with Scott Walker. That time has long since passed.
At the risk of twisting the knife, let’s note that Walker is now also tied with candidates who are barely trying.
As for the top tier, this is the first time in quite a while that four different candidates reached double digits in the same national poll. That said, the top three candidates – who currently enjoy 53% of the Republican vote between them – have a combined total of zero days in public office.
Trump remains on top, at least for now, and his backers can’t be pleased to see his advantage shrink this much, this quickly. But looking past the top-line result, Trump is still seen by GOP voters as the best candidate to handle the economy, address illegal immigration, and oversee foreign policy.
Asked, however, about “social issues, such as abortion and same-sex marriage,” Republican voters narrowly preferred Ben Carson to Trump.