- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Businessman and 2016 GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump is leading the rest of the Republican field in North Carolina and holds a 5-point advantage over No. 2 Ben Carson, according to a poll released Tuesday.

Mr. Trump was at 26 percent in the poll from the Democratic-leaning firm Public Policy Polling (PPP), followed by Mr. Carson, the retired neurosurgeon, at 21 percent.

Next was former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina at 12 percent, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida at 10 percent, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas at 9 percent, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee at 6 percent, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at 5 percent and Ohio Gov. John Kasich at 4 percent.

Mr. Trump had been at 24 percent in a poll released in August. Mr. Carson, who had been at 14 percent, has edged closer since then, increasing his support by 7 points. Support for Ms. Fiorina went up 6 points, from 6 percent.

Mr. Trump had a 53 percent/36 percent favorable/unfavorable split among GOP voters, up from a 47 percent/40 percent split in August.

“It’s possible that Donald Trump peaked sometime earlier this month,” said Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling. “But in both our North Carolina and Iowa polls since the debate, we’ve found that he’s at least as strong as he was in mid-August.”

Mr. Carson was the most popular candidate with a 70 percent/17 percent favorable/unfavorable split, and he was also the most frequent second choice, at 16 percent.

Mr. Bush, meanwhile, went in the wrong direction, losing 8 points of support from his 13 percent level in August. Sen. Rand Paul’s numbers in the state have also trended downward, with the Kentucky Republican going from 12 percent in June to 7 percent in July, 3 percent in August, and less than 1 percent in the poll released Tuesday.

The survey from Sept. 24-27 included 576 Republican primary voters, with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percent for that group.

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

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