- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Businessman Donald Trump has retained his position at the top of the 2016 Republican field in the early state of Iowa, with retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and businesswoman Carly Fiorina in second and third, respectively, in a poll conducted in the wake of last week’s GOP presidential debate in California.

Mr. Trump had the support of 24 percent of Hawkeye State Republicans in the survey released Tuesday by the Democratic-leaning firm Public Policy Polling, followed by Mr. Carson at 17 percent and Ms. Fiorina at 13 percent.

“For all the controversy over the last six weeks Donald Trump’s in a slightly stronger position now than he was after the first debate,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling.

In a survey taken right after the Aug. 6 GOP debate in Cleveland, Mr. Trump had been in first in the state at 19 percent, followed by Mr. Carson and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker at 12 percent each, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at 11 percent, and Ms. Fiorina at 10 percent.

In the survey released Tuesday, Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida were at 8 percent apiece, followed by Mr. Bush and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee at 6 percent each.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who announced Monday he is suspending his campaign, was at 5 percent in the new poll. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky were at 4 percent apiece.

Sixty-nine percent of Republicans said they agree with the statement that “President Obama is waging a war on Christianity.” Forty-nine percent said they think the religion of Islam should be legal in the United States, compared to 30 percent who said it shouldn’t be legal and 21 percent who said they wouldn’t sure.

At Mr. Trump’s town hall in New Hampshire last week, a questioner had said Mr. Obama is a foreign-born Muslim. Mr. Trump has since said it’s not his obligation to defend the president.

And Mr. Carson has tried to clarify comments he made this week on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he wouldn’t advocate that a Muslim serve as president, saying in Ohio Tuesday he would support anyone if they embrace American values and the U.S. Constitution and were willing to put that ahead of their religious beliefs.

Mr. Carson was easily the best-liked candidate, with a 77 percent/11 percent favorable/unfavorable split. Ms. Fiorina was second with a 62 percent/15 percent split. Ms. Fiorina was also the most popular second choice at 16 percent, with Mr. Carson in second at 14 percent.

Mr. Trump had a 48 percent/38 percent favorable/unfavorable split - about what it was in August. Mr. Trump led Mr. Bush by double digits in a head-to-head match-up, but trailed Mr. Carson, Ms. Fiorina, Mr. Rubio, and Mr. Walker, also by double digits.

The survey of 488 usual Republican primary voters was taken from Sept. 18-20 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percent.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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