Donald Trump’s death grip on the Republican primary may finally be loosening, per a New York Times/CBS News poll released Tuesday, marking the first time since pollsters began calling U.S. voters in late July that Trump has not been Republican primary voters’ favorite candidate.
The poll confirms the results of a Quinnipiac poll of potential Iowa caucus-goers released last week. Former neurosurgeon Ben Carson supplanted Trump at the top of both surveys. NYT/CBS found Carson has the support of 26 percent of likely Republican primary voters, while Trump’s support fell to 22 percent. The Quinnipiac Iowa poll found even greater support for Carson – 28 percent – while Trump’s support was just 20 percent.
The NYT/CBS poll comes with a pretty strong caveat: 71 percent of those polled said it was too early to say for sure who they would support.
In both polls, Trump remains in striking distance of Carson, and his lead within the polls’ margins of error.
A third recent poll, conducted by Bloomberg Politics, the Des Moines Register and Selzer & Company, tried to get at the heart of what Republicans like about Carson. It found 81 percent liked that Carson said Obamacare is the worst thing since slavery, 77 percent liked that he said Hitler would not have been able to carry out the holocaust if Jews had guns, and 73 percent liked that he said he did not believe a Muslim should be able to serve as president. Forty two percent of Republican voters also said they liked the fact that Carson had no foreign policy experience.
Quinnipiac, meanwhile, credits Carson’s surge to increased enthusiasm from women about his candidacy. More than double the amount of women support Carson as support Trump: 33 percent, compared to 13.
Sen. Marco Rubio held on strong to third place in both the NYT/CBS and Quinnipiac surveys, polling at 8 percent and 10 percent, respectively.
Trump did not take the results of last week’s poll well. The real estate mogul retweeted a supporter who wrote, “#BenCarson is now leading in the #polls in #Iowa. Too much #Monsanto in the #corn creates issues in the brain?”
The Apprentice star (or someone on his staff) apparently realized that kind of talk might not help win the hearts and minds of caucus-goers whose support he’ll need in February; shortly thereafter Trump deleted the tweet and sent a new note saying, “The young intern who accidentally did a Retweet apologizes.”
In interviews, Trump expressed disbelief when asked about his drop in the polls on Tuesday morning. “I don’t get it,” he said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “I’m going there actually today, and I have tremendous crowds, and I have tremendous love in the room, and you know, we seem to have hit a chord. But some of these polls coming out, I don’t quite get it.”