- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has expanded his lead over his next-closest 2016 GOP rival to 14 points in a new national survey released Tuesday.

Mr. Trump was the choice of 29 percent of GOP primary voters, followed by retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson at 15 percent, according to the poll from the Democratic-leaning firm Public Policy Polling (PPP).

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was in third at 9 percent, followed by businesswoman Carly Fiorina at 8 percent, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida at 7 percent, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Ohio Gov. John Kasich at 6 percent apiece, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker at 5 percent apiece.

The poll found that more than half of Republicans — and more than 60 percent of Trump supporters — said they believe President Obama, who is Christian, is a Muslim and also said they want to amend the U.S. Constitution to bar citizenship for children of illegal immigrants.

Meanwhile, 61 percent of Trump supporters said they think Mr. Obama, who was born in Hawaii, was not born in the United States, while a plurality of Republicans surveyed — 44 percent to 29 percent — said they do not think the president was born in the United States.

“Donald Trump’s saying things out on the campaign trail that a lot of people think, but that have generally been seen as not appropriate to talk about in public,” said Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling. “So it’s not surprising that people who hold those kinds of beliefs are gravitating towards him.”

Though Mr. Trump had the lead, Mr. Carson was rated the most popular candidate in the field, scoring a favorable rating of 68 percent and an unfavorable rating of 14 percent. Mr. Trump had a positive 56 percent/30 percent favorable/unfavorable split.

Mr. Carson was also the most frequent second choice of GOP voters at 13 percent and was the only Republican who beat Mr. Trump in a hypothetical head-to-head matchup, leading him by 6 points, 49 percent to 43 percent.

Mr. Trump’s support increased 10 points compared to a PPP poll released in late July, when he had a narrow lead over Mr. Walker, 19 percent to 17 percent. In addition to Mr. Walker’s slide, Mr. Bush slipped 3 points from 12 percent in that poll, while Mr. Carson, who had been at 10 percent, picked up some support.

Mr. Rubio also slipped 3 points from 10 percent in the July poll, and Mr. Huckabee fell 3 points from his previous 8 percent. Ms. Fiorina and Mr. Kasich both doubled their support, with Ms. Fiorina going from 4 percent to 8 percent and Mr. Kasich going from 3 percent to 6 percent. Mr. Cruz’s numbers ticked up from 4 percent to 6 percent.

PPP surveyed 572 “usual Republican primary voters” from Aug. 28-30, with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percent.

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