- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 3, 2015

Real estate mogul and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has retained a double-digit lead in the race for the 2016 GOP nomination with a surging Ben Carson now in second place, according to a poll released Thursday.

Mr. Trump was the first choice of 30 percent of Republican and GOP-leaning voters in the national Monmouth University poll — up 4 points from a survey released in early August that had Mr. Trump ahead of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, then in second at 12 percent, by 14 points.

Mr. Carson, meanwhile, increased his support by 13 points to move into second place at 18 percent. Mr. Bush dropped 4 points into a tie for third with Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas at 8 percent.

“None of the establishment candidates is having any success in getting an anti-Trump vote to coalesce around them. In fact, any attempt to take on Trump directly only seems to make him stronger,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, New Jersey.

Next came Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida at 5 percent, followed by businesswoman Carly Fiorina and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee at 4 percent apiece.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who was in third in the poll released in early August at 11 percent, was at 3 percent in the survey released Thursday. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky were at 2 percent apiece.

Mr. Trump had a 59 percent/29 percent favorable/unfavorable split — an improvement from what had been a positive 52 percent/35 percent split a month ago and a marked improvement from a negative 20 percent/55 percent split in June.

Mr. Carson, meanwhile, had a 67 percent/6 percent favorable/unfavorable split, up from a positive 45 percent/10 percent split in the last poll. And Mr. Carson was the only Republican to best Mr. Trump in a head-to-head matchup, leading him by 19 points, 55 percent to 36 percent.

“The fact that the only one who can challenge Trump is the only other candidate who has never held or run for elected office speaks volumes to the low regard GOP voters have for the establishment,” Mr. Murray said.

Echoing a similar trend seen in other recent polling, 67 percent said they think the country needs more in the next president someone from outside government who can bring a new approach to Washington, compared to 26 percent who said the country needs someone with government experience who knows how to get things done.

“Conservative activists believe the Republican Party has abandoned its principles. Moderates feel their leadership is ineffective. So Republican voters have created their own job description for the next nominee - Wanted: Someone who can shake up Washington; no elected officials need apply,” Mr. Murray said.

The survey, conducted Aug. 31-Sept. 2, included 366 registered voters who identified as Republicans or leaning toward the GOP. That sample has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.1 percent.

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