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Monmouth University Polling Institute

Carson Holds 14 Pt. Lead in GOP Caucus

Monday, October 26, 2015

Outsider candidates ride voter dissatisfaction with party

West Long Branch, NJ  - The Monmouth University Poll of likely Iowa Republican caucusgoers finds Ben Carson has taken a double digit lead over Donald Trump.  The outsider candidates remain on top amid a prevailing attitude that the national Republican Party has not served its voters well.

When Iowa Republicans are asked who they would support in their local caucus, Ben Carson (32%) tops the list, with Donald Trump (18%) holding second.  In Monmouth's last poll of GOP caucusgoers in August, the two were tied for the top spot at 23% each.  The next tier of candidates includes Ted Cruz (10%), Marco Rubio (10%), and Jeb Bush (8%).  They are followed by Carly Fiorina (5%), Rand Paul (3%), Mike Huckabee (2%), Bobby Jindal (2%), and John Kasich (2%).  None of the other five candidates tested topped 1%.

Compared to two months ago, Carson is up by 9 points and Rubio is up by 6 points.  Trump has dropped by 5 points and Fiorina's share of the vote has also decreased by 5 points.  Carson's support has gone up among all ideological groups.  He now leads Trump by 9 points (31%-22%) among very conservative voters compared to a single point two months ago and by 21 points (39%-18%) among somewhat conservative voters compared to 2 points in August.  He also has a 17 point (29%-12%) lead among moderate to liberal voters, which is a reversal since the prior poll when he trailed Trump by 9 points (17%-26%) among this group.

Carson maintains a 36% to 18% lead over Trump among evangelical Christian voters, which is somewhat larger than the 29% to 23% advantage he held two months ago.  However, Carson also holds a 28% to 19% edge among non-evangelicals, reversing an 18% to 24% deficit in August.  Carson's 34% to 17% lead over Trump among women is similar to his 30% to 19% advantage two months ago.  He now leads among men as well, 31% to 20%, which wipes out the 17% to 27% deficit he had to Trump in the prior poll.

"Trump's support has eroded in a number of key areas, with the beneficiary being another outside candidate.  One question is how secure Carson's new found support really is," said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.

Just 1-in-5 (19%) Iowa GOP caucusgoers say they are completely set on their choice, although this is up from 12% two months ago.  Another 43% say they have a strong preference right now, 19% have a slight preference, and 18% are really undecided.  Three-in-ten voters say they would be either very unhappy (11%) or a little unhappy (19%) if their chosen candidate did not win the Republican nomination, but most (52%) would be okay if someone else was the GOP standard bearer.  There are few significant differences in these findings by candidate support.

"While the leaderboard positions have changed, the outsider candidates still dominate this race.  The GOP's leadership may hope that an establishment figure will emerge, but that may not happen while their voters remain dissatisfied with the party as a whole," said Murray.

Nearly 6-in-10 (57%) Iowa caucusgoers say that the national Republican Party does a bad job representing the concerns of voters like them.  Just 32% say it does a good job.  Majorities of very conservative (60%), somewhat conservative (56%), and moderate to liberal (52%) voters alike say the national party does a bad job representing them.

The poll found that Ben Carson continues to hold the best voter rating in the field at 84% favorable and 7% unfavorable, which is basically unchanged from August (81% - 6%).  Donald Trump's rating is 53% favorable and 38% unfavorable.  Trump's positive rating is basically the same as in August (52%), but his negative rating has increased by 5 points from 33%.

Other candidates with positive voter ratings include Marco Rubio (65% favorable - 16% unfavorable), Carly Fiorina (63% - 18%), Ted Cruz (59% - 24%), Bobby Jindal (56% - 23%), and Mike Huckabee (52% - 33%).  Jeb Bush receives a negative rating of 42% favorable and 46% unfavorable, but that is improved from 32% - 51% two months ago.  Negative ratings are also given to John Kasich (31% - 35%), Rand Paul (32% - 49%), and Chris Christie (30% - 53%).

The Monmouth University Poll  was conducted by telephone from October 22 to 25, 2015 with 400 Iowa voters likely to attend the Republican presidential caucuses in February 2016. This sample has a margin of error of ± 4.9 percent.  The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.

The questions referred to in this release are as follows:

1.     Who would you support if the presidential caucus was being held today and the candidates for the Republican nomination were – [NAMES WERE ROTATED]

2.     And who would be your second choice?

3.   Which of the following best describes where your decision stands at this moment: I am completely decided on which candidate I will support, I have a strong preference right now but I am willing to consider other candidates, I have a slight preference among a group of candidates I like, or I am really undecided among a number of candidates?


4.   How would you feel if someone other than [FIRST VOTE CHOICE] won the Republican nomination – would you be very unhappy, a little unhappy, or would you be okay with it?

5.   I’m going to read you a few names of people who are running for president in 2016.  Please tell me if your general impression of each is favorable or unfavorable, or if you don’t really have an opinion.  [NAMES WERE ROTATED]

6.   Overall, is the national Republican Party doing a good job or bad job representing the concerns of voters like you?

7.   Have you had the opportunity to meet or see any of the Republican or Democratic candidates for president in person this year, or not?  


The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from October 22 to 25, 2015 with a statewide random sample of 400 Iowa voters drawn from a list of registered Republican voters who voted in at least one of the last two state primary elections and indicate they are likely to attend the Republican presidential caucuses in February 2016. This includes 262 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 138 contacted by a live interviewer on a cell phone, in English.  Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey design, data weighting and analysis. Final sample is weighted for age and gender based on state registration list information on the pool of voters who participate in primary elections. Data collection support provided by Braun Research (field) and Aristotle (voter list). For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points (unadjusted for sample design). Sampling error can be larger for sub-groups (see table below). In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

Click on pdf file link below for full methodology and results by key demographic groups.

Download this Poll Report with all tables

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