- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson is seen more favorably than GOP rivals Donald Trump and Carly Fiorina among both Republicans and among the general U.S. population, according to a survey released Wednesday that also suggests potential limits on Mr. Trump’s bases of support.

Mr. Carson had a 68 percent favorable rating among Republicans compared to a 14 percent unfavorable rating, the ABC News-Washington Post poll said. Mr. Trump, the billionaire businessman, had a 62 percent/34 percent split and Ms. Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO, had a 47 percent/27 percent split.

The three political outsiders who have never held elected office have been riding high in polling on the 2016 GOP presidential nominating contest, collectively accounting for about 50 percent or more of Republican support in recent surveys.

Overall, Mr. Carson had a positive 45 percent/27 percent favorable/unfavorable split, compared to a 35 percent/30 percent split for Ms. Fiorina and a negative 35 percent/60 percent split for Mr. Trump.

There was a sizable gender gap for Mr. Trump: 43 percent of men had a favorable view, compared to 54 percent who had an unfavorable view. Twenty-seven percent of women, meanwhile, said they have a favorable view of Mr. Trump, compared to 66 percent who said they have an unfavorable one.

“A growing gender gap, sharp racial polarization and a less-educated base of support all pose potential limits on Donald Trump’s popularity — challenges largely avoided by Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina, the two lesser-known figures in the triumvirate of non-traditional GOP contenders,” said a memo accompanying the poll.

The 28-point gap overall (a net -11 rating from men compared to a -39 rating from women) is up from a 2-point difference in May. Mr. Trump’s favorability among Republican women, a 52 percent/42 percent split, has largely stayed the same since July while his support among men has improved from a 61 percent/35 percent split to a 71 percent/27 percent split.

Among all adults, Mr. Carson’s gender gap (+25 net favorability among men, +11 net favorability among women) was at 14 points and Ms. Fiorina’s (+10 among men, +2 among women) was at 8 points. Among Republicans, the gender gap was 34 points for Mr. Trump, compared to 7 points for Mr. Carson and 1 point for Ms. Fiorina.

As the memo indicated, Mr. Trump also had bigger gaps in favorability compared to Mr. Carson and Ms. Fiorina when looking at his support among college graduates versus non-college graduates and among whites versus non-whites. He had much better ratings among non-college graduates compared to college graduates, and better ratings among whites compared to non-whites.

Mr. Trump also had a net +14 rating (55 percent favorable/41 percent unfavorable) among conservatives, compared to +47 (64 percent favorable/17 percent unfavorable) for Mr. Carson and +23 (47 percent favorable/24 percent unfavorable) for Ms. Fiorina. Among moderates, the three candidates were at -44, +9, and even, respectively, and among liberals, they were at -58, -9, and -13.

“These results suggest that Carson’s a darling of conservatives, while both he and Fiorina do comparatively well among moderates – with no clear ideological home for Trump,” the memo said.

The poll of 1,000 adults was taken Sept. 23-27 and has a margin of error of 4 points.

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