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Trump Widens Lead

Monday, Aug. 3, 2015

GOP voters prefer two split-field debates over a “Top Ten”

West Long Branch, NJ  – Donald Trump has widened his national lead in the latest Monmouth University Poll  of Republican voters and now holds a more than 2-to-1 advantage over his nearest rivals, Jeb Bush and Scott Walker.  The poll also found that few GOP voters like the idea of a “Top Ten” debate, with many preferring back-to-back debates with the field randomly split in half.

When Republicans and Republican-leaning voters are asked who they would support for the GOP nomination for president, Donald Trump leads the pack at 26%, with Jeb Bush (12%) and Scott Walker (11%) following behind.  The remainder of the “top ten” includes Ted Cruz (6%), Mike Huckabee (6%), Ben Carson (5%), Chris Christie (4%), Rand Paul (4%), Marco Rubio (4%), and John Kasich (3%).  Carly Fiorina and Rick Perry each earn 2% and Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum, Lindsey Graham, George Pataki, and Jim Gilmore each get 1% or less.  Another 10% of GOP voters say they still are unsure who they will support for the party’s nomination.

Compared to the Monmouth University Poll  released three weeks ago, Trump’s support has increased by 13 points.  Walker’s support has increased by 4, while Bush and Cruz have decreased by 3 points.  No other candidate’s support has changed by more than 2 percentage points, but the undecided vote went down by 8 points.

Trump’s support spans nearly all demographic groups:

  • Ideology  – Trump leads Walker 27% to 16% among very conservative voters; has 22% support among somewhat conservative voters to 14% for Bush and 12% for Walker; and takes 28% of the moderate to liberal voter compared to 20% for Bush.
  • Tea Party  – Tea Party supporters back Trump (35%) over Walker (15%) and Cruz (11%).  Non-Tea Party supporters split their top support between Trump (20%) and Bush (16%).
  • Age  – Trump (26%) has a clear lead over Bush (15%) and Walker (12%) among voters age 50 and older.  Those under 50 years old also prefer Trump (26%) over Walker (10%) and Bush (9%).
  • Gender  – Trump leads among both male and female Republicans, with men (32%) giving him a large advantage over Bush (13%) and Walker (11%).  Women (20%) give him a narrower lead over Walker (12%) and Bush (11%).

“Republican support for Donald Trump just continues to grow with no clear sense of who his constituency really is,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.  “This makes it very difficult for his opponents to figure out how to take him on in the upcoming debate.”

The top ten candidates in the field, based on a national polling average, will make it into the first sanctioned GOP debate later this week.  Few Republican voters are on board with this idea.  When presented with three possible scenarios to determine who gets into the first debate, nearly half (45%) prefer to have two back-to-back debates with the field randomly split in half.  Another 29% say it would be better to put all the declared candidates together on one stage.  Just 23% favor using polls to select a “top ten” group of candidates for the main debate while having the remaining candidates participate in a separate debate.

GOP Candidate Support Range
including margin of potential sampling error

Monmouth University Poll – August 2015

Candidate

Support

Lower Margin

Upper Margin

Trump

26.0%

21.8

30.2

Bush

12.2%

9.1

15.3

Walker

11.1%

8.1

14.1

Cruz

5.8%

3.6

8.0

Huckabee

5.7%

3.5

7.9

Carson

4.6%

2.6

6.6

Christie

4.4%

2.4

6.4

Paul

4.4%

2.4

6.4

Rubio

4.4%

2.4

6.4

Kasich

3.2%

1.5

4.9

Fiorina

1.9%

0.6

3.2

Perry

1.8%

0.5

3.1

Jindal

1.2%

0.2

2.2

Santorum

1.0%

0

2.0

Graham

0.7%

0

1.5

Pataki

0.4%

0

1.0

Gilmore

0%

n/a

n/a

Note: margin of error calculation is based on actual proportion of support rather than the hypothetical 50% proportion used to calculate the maximum margin of error for the entire poll.

The chart above shows just how close some of these candidates are to the debate cut-off and how the sampling margin of error alone has the potential to change their order in the polling average.  Only five candidates – Trump, Bush, Walker, Cruz, and Huckabee – are definitely in the top tier of candidates, while just two – Pataki and Gilmore – would not make it into the top ten even when margin of error is taken into account.  The poll results for the remaining 10 candidates overlap when the margin of error is considered, making it unclear who is truly in the top ten.

“I suppose Fox hoped that a top tier would emerge by the time the first debate rolled around.  But based on current polling, there’s no good rationale for arbitrarily selecting a top ten,” said Murray.

GOP Candidate Ratings

The Monmouth University Poll  also found that GOP voter opinion of Donald Trump continues to improve.  It now stands at 52% favorable to 35% unfavorable.  It was 40% favorable to 41% unfavorable three weeks ago.  Before he announced in June, it stood at a significantly negative 20% favorable to 55% unfavorable.

There was little movement in other candidates’ ratings since last month with just a few exceptions.  John Kasich’s favorable rating went up 8 points to 27% since he threw his hat into the ring, while his unfavorable rating held steady at 14%.  Still, 58% of Republican voters say they don’t know enough to form an opinion about him.  Scott Walker’s favorability rating went up 8 points to 50%, while his negative rating held stable at 10%.  Rick Santorum’s favorable rating went down 9 points to 31% and his unfavorable rating went up 6 points to 24%.

Other GOP candidates with solid ratings from voters in their own party include: Marco Rubio (54% favorable to 11% unfavorable), Ted Cruz (52% to 14%), Jeb Bush (52% to 30%), Mike Huckabee (51% to 23%), Rand Paul (48% to 23%), Rick Perry (46% to 21%), and Ben Carson (45% to 10%).  Bobby Jindal (36% to 16%) and Carly Fiorina (30% to 11%) also earn net positive ratings but remain less known.

The remainder of the field earns net negative ratings from Republicans and Republican-leaning voters.  This includes Chris Christie (30% favorable to 45% unfavorable), Lindsey Graham (18% to 36%), George Pataki (12% to 31%), and Jim Gilmore (8% to 15%).

The Monmouth University Poll  was conducted by telephone from July 30 to August 2, 2015 with 1,203 adults in the United States.  This release is based on a sample of 423 registered voters who identify themselves as Republicans or lean toward the Republican Party.  This voter sample has a margin of error of ± 4.8 percent.  The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.

DATA TABLES

The questions referred to in this release are as follows:

(* Some columns may not add to 100% due to rounding.)

1. I know the 2016 election is far away, but who would you support for the Republican nomination for president if the candidates were – [NAMES WERE ROTATED]

 Aug.
2015
July
2015
June
2015
April
2015
Jeb Bush12%15%9%13%
Ben Carson5%6%11%7%
Chris Christie4%2%4%5%
Ted Cruz6%9%5%11%
Carly Fiorina2%1%2%1%
Jim Gilmore0%0%

n/a

n/a

Lindsey Graham1%

<1%

2%1%
Mike Huckabee6%7%8%9%
Bobby Jindal1%2%1%1%
John Kasich3%1%1%1%
George Pataki

<1%

<1%<1%

<1%

Rand Paul4%6%6%6%
Rick Perry2%2%4%5%
Marco Rubio4%6%9%5%
Rick Santorum1%2%3%1%
Donald Trump26%13%2%7%
Scott Walker11%7%10%11%
(VOL) Other0%0%0%1%
(VOL) No one1%1%2%2%
(VOL) Undecided10%18%20%14%

2. 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]

 FavorableUnfavorableNo
opinion
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush

   52%

   30%

   18%

    –July 2015

50

30

20

    –June 2015

40

35

25

    –April 2015

49

31

21

    –December 2014

39

30

31

Commentator and Doctor Ben Carson

   45%

   10%

   45%

    –July 2015

48

11

41

    –June 2015

45

12

43

    –April 2015

39

16

45

    –December 2014

32

12

57

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie

   30%

   45%

   25%

    –July 2015

25

45

30

    –June 2015

26

43

31

    –April 2015

33

42

25

    –December 2014

36

34

31

Texas Senator Ted Cruz

   52%

   14%

   34%

    –July 2015

48

16

35

    –June 2015

49

1735

    –April 2015

49

19

32

    –December 2014

39

15

46

Businesswoman Carly Fiorina

   30%

   11%

   58%

    –July 2015

30

18

51

    –June 2015

29

18

54

    –April 2015

18

20

62

    –December 2014

n/a

n/a

n/a

Former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore

   8%

   15%

   77%

    –July 2015

6

14

80

    –June 2015

n/a

n/a

n/a

    –April 2015

n/a

n/a

n/a

    –December 2014

n/a

n/a

n/a

(Question 2 continued)

Favorable

Unfavorable

No
opinion 
South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham

   18%

   36%

   46%

    –July 2015

17

33

50

    –June 2015

17

34

48

    –April 2015

18

32

50

    –December 2014

n/a

n/a

n/a

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee

   51%

   23%

   26%

    –July 2015

53

23

24

    –June 2015

50

20

30

    –April 2015

53

21

26

    –December 2014

45

22

33

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal

   36%

   16%

   47%

    –June 2015

35

15

51

    –June 2015

27

16

57

    –April 2015

30

21

48

    –December 2014

28

14

58

Ohio Governor John Kasich

   27%

   14%

   58%

    –July 2015

19

16

65

    –June 2015

20

18

62

    –April 2015

24

14

61

    –December 2014

21

11

69

Former New York Governor George Pataki

   12%

   31%

   57%

    –July 2015

13

31

57

    –June 2015

14

29

58

    –April 2015

15

33

52

    –December 2014

n/a

n/a

n/a

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul

   48%

   23%

   29%

    –July 2015

44

26

30

    –June 2015

39

24

37

    –April 2015

47

22

31

    –December 2014

42

18

39

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry

   46%

   21%

   33%

    –July 2015

45

21

34

    –June 2015

45

20

35

    –April 2015

42

20

39

    –December 2014

43

20

37

Florida Senator Marco Rubio

   54%

   11%

   36%

    –July 2015

53

19

28

    –June 2015

54

13

34

    –April 2015

41

18

40

    –December 2014

38

16

46

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum

   31%

   24%

   45%

    –July 2015

40

18

43

    –June 2015

33

22

45

    –April 2015

36

22

42

    –December 2014

28

22

51

Businessman Donald Trump

   52%

   35%

   13%

    –July 2015

40

41

19

    –June 2015

20

55

25

    –April 2015

28

56

   15%

    –December 2014

n/a

n/a

n/a

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker

   50%

   10%

   40%

    –July 2015

42

11

46

    –June 2015

42

12

46

    –April 2015

44

  9

46

    –December 2014

30

10

61

    

3. The first Republican candidate debate is coming up. Do you think that all declared candidates should get to share the same stage – OR – Do you think there should be one debate with the top ten candidates according to recent polls and another debate with the remaining ones – OR – Do you think there should be two back-to-back debates with half the candidates randomly assigned to each one? [ITEMS WERE ROTATED]

 Aug.
2015
All candidates share the same stage29%
One top ten debate and another with remainder23%
Two back-to-back debates randomly assigned45%
(VOL) Don’t know3%

The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from July 30 to August 2, 2015 with a national random sample of 1,203 adults age 18 and older.  This includes 842 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 361 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 region, age, education, gender and race based on US Census information.  Data collection support provided by Braun Research (field) and SSI (RDD sample).  The results in this poll release are based on a subsample of 423 registered voters who identify themselves as Republicans or lean toward the Republican Party.  For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 4.8 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.

POLL DEMOGRAPHICS (weighted)  FULL SAMPLE – ALL ADULTS

49% Male32% 18-34

66% White

51% Female36% 35-54

12% Black

 32% 55+

15% Hispanic

  

      7% Asian/Other

POLL DEMOGRAPHICS (weighted)  REPUBLICAN VOTERS ONLY

54% Male25% 18-34

82% White

47% Female41% 35-54

  3% Black

 34% 55+

  8% Hispanic

  

      7% Asian/Other

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

Download this Poll Report with crosstabs