A new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released Monday shows a shank-up in the presidential race—particularly among Republican presidential candidates. For the first time in months, GOP front-runner Donald Trump is no longer alone at the top. He is now in a virtual tie with Ben Carson. Carly Fiorina, who had a post-debate bump, is far behind and tied with Marco Rubio. On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders is gaining ground on Hillary Clinton.
Republican primary voters give Trump 21 percent followed by Carson at 20 percent—a statistical tie. Rubio and Fiorina are tied at 11 percent each. Jeb Bush, the presumed nominee, is at 7 percent, John Kasich at 6 percent and Ted Cruz at 5 percent. No other Republican gets more than 3 percent.
If you add both the first and second choices, Carson tops the current GOP field at 35 percent. Trump follows at 31 percent, Fiorina at 28 percent, Rubio at 26 percent, and Bush at 19 percent. Many pundits are saying that this poll shows that the “Summer of Trump” may be over. Others are not so sure. Trump released a major policy statement on taxes today in an attempt to show there is substance to his campaign. He is calling for reducing tax rates and eliminating loopholes on some businesses.
In this same poll last July, Trump was in first place at 19 percent; Scott Walker (who quit the race on Monday) was second at 15 percent; Bush was third at 14 percent; Carson came in fourth at 10 percent; Rubio had 5 percent, and Fiorina didn’t register at all in the poll. Trump has led the pack alone at the top since. This is the first time his lead is in question.
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton is the first choice of 42 percent of primary voters, Sanders is second at 35 percent and Joe Biden third at 17 percent. No other Democrat gets more than 1 percent. If Biden is not in the race, Clinton does better, capturing 53 percent to Sanders 38 percent, a spread of 15 points. This would indicate that Clinton supporters may be encouraging Biden not to jump into the race.
In July, Clinton held a 34-point lead over Sanders, 59 percent to 25 percent. And in June, it was 60 points, 75 percent to 15 percent. Bernie Sanders has been slowly chipping away at that lead despite the fact she has many times more money.
Fiorina’s surge has been stopped for the time being. Since the last debate, Fiorina was making a run to the top of the pack. As is often the case, once a candidate moves into the spotlight, the media scrutiny becomes more intense. In this case, Fiorina has not done well dealing with that scrutiny. Rubio appears to be the beneficiary of Fiorina’s demise. He has been the tortoise in the race.
In the last debate, Fiorina made a strong statement about a Planned Parenthood video showing saying it showed an aborted fetus on a table with “its heart beating, its legs kicking” while a Doctor was preparing to “harvest its brain.” All fact checkers including FOX News say that the video does not exist. Nonetheless, Fiorina continues to repeat the story despite evidence that it is not true. This, along with questions about her performance as CEO of HP, seems to be hurting Fiorina.
Other polls will come out this week and pundits will be watching to see if the NBC/WSJ poll is an outlier. Stay tuned.