- The Washington Times - Monday, November 2, 2015

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has retained a double-digit lead over his closest GOP rival, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, in New Hampshire in a poll taken after last week’s GOP debate.

Mr. Trump had the support of 26 percent of likely GOP primary voters in the state, followed by Mr. Carson at 16 percent, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida at 13 percent, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich at 11 percent, according to the Monmouth University poll released Monday.

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas was next at 9 percent, followed by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at 7 percent, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at 5 percent each, and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky at 3 percent.

In a Monmouth poll taken in September, Mr. Trump had been in the lead at 28 percent, followed by Mr. Carson at 17 percent and Mr. Kasich at 11 percent.

Mr. Rubio, meanwhile, more than tripled his 4 percent support from the September poll.

“Marco Rubio’s standout performance in the last debate seems to have paid dividends in a contest that was supposed to be dominated by his former mentor Jeb Bush,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, New Jersey. “Rubio’s newfound support seems to be a little softer than for other candidates at the front of the pack, but it is not particularly solid for anybody.”

Just 20 percent of likely primary voters say they’re completely decided on a candidate.

Mr. Carson was the best-liked candidate, with a 64 percent favorable rating and a 19 percent unfavorable rating, followed closely by Mr. Rubio, who had a 62 percent/19 percent favorable/unfavorable split.

Mr. Trump had a 49 percent/43 percent favorable/unfavorable split, down a bit from his 54 percent/36 percent split in September.

Mr. Kasich’s numbers dropped to a 45 percent/31 percent split from a 54 percent/19 percent split, and Mr. Paul’s ratings declined to a 29 percent/51 percent split from a 37 percent/43 percent split.

In addition to a bump for Mr. Rubio, voters’ impressions of Mr. Bush and Mr. Christie also improved.

Mr. Bush had a 44 percent/42 percent favorable/unfavorable split, up from a negative 39 percent/45 percent split in September. And Mr. Christie was at a positive 54 percent/32 percent split, compared to a previously negative 38 percent/46 percent split.

“Candidate ratings can be a leading indicator for potential shifts in the vote choice. These results could be good news for Christie and bad news for Kasich. However, both have to contend with a surging Rubio,” Mr. Murray said. 

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