- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump has surged to a 16-point lead over his closest 2016 GOP rival, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, in the early state of South Carolina, according to a poll released Wednesday.

Mr. Trump was the first choice of 37 percent of “usual” GOP primary voters in the poll from the Democratic-leaning firm Public Policy Polling, followed by Mr. Carson at 21 percent. No other candidate topped 6 percent.

Mr. Trump, the billionaire businessman, was leading with every segment of the GOP electorate: He was at 47 percent with moderates, 40 percent with men, 39 percent with evangelicals, 36 percent with seniors, 36 percent with younger voters, 34 percent with women and 32 percent with “very conservative” voters.

He also had a 64 percent favorable rating, compared to a 28 percent unfavorable rating, and won handily in head-to-head match-ups against Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and native son Sen. Lindsey Graham.

But Mr. Carson actually led Mr. Trump in a head-to-head match-up, 46 percent to 45 percent, and was the best-liked of any of the GOP contenders with a 74 percent/14 percent favorable/unfavorable split. Mr. Carson was also the top second choice, at 18 percent.

Overall, Mr. Bush and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas were at 6 percent, with Ms. Fiorina, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Mr. Rubio at 4 percent apiece.

Mr. Graham, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mr. Walker were tied at 3 percent apiece.

In PPP’s February survey on the field in South Carolina, which was taken before any of the major candidates entered the race, Mr. Bush had led with 19 percent, followed by Mr. Walker at 18 percent, Mr. Graham and Mr. Carson at 13 percent apiece and Mr. Huckabee at 12 percent.

The survey of 764 “usual Republican primary voters” was taken from Sept. 3-6 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percent.

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