A good poll for Trump, though. Mid-20s is a few points shy of his best in other surveys lately, but this is the highest he’s ever scored in WSJ/NBC.
While Trump leads when GOP primary voters are asked about their first choice for the party’s nomination, Carson boasts the highest share of voters who say they can see themselves supporting him. Seventy-four percent said that they can imagine backing Carson for the GOP nod, while just 20 percent said they could not…
But Trump has also gained ground when it comes to whether or not potential voters can picture themselves backing him. Fifty-nine percent of GOP voters now say they can see themselves supporting Trump, while 36 percent disagree. Just last month, a slight majority – 52 percent – said they could not see themselves backing the real estate mogul, while 47 could envision it…
When asked which candidate would be their second choice, GOP respondents tended to choose Carson, followed by Trump and Rubio. That tally means that, when GOP primary voters’ first and second choices are combined, the former neurosurgeon manages to best Trump, 44 percent to Trump’s 39 percent.
Trump may rank third behind Carson and Rubio when Republicans are asked if they can see themselves supporting him for president, but that’s a result he can happily live with for now. It’s a rebuke to the idea, long pushed by the punditocracy, that Republican voters would get tired of him. In fact, he’s ahead of Jeb “Mr. Electable” Bush by eight points in that metric. That’s the real significance of this poll, I think — not just that he and Carson, the outsiders, are ahead of the field but that the two of them are broadly acceptable to the party as a prospective nominee. They’ve both gained credibility with voters who prefer other candidates, which could be dangerous for an establishment champion like Rubio or Bush if they’re expecting an easy time in an eventual head-to-head race for the nomination against one of the “outsiders.”
The other big winner in this poll, obviously, is Rubio. Thirteen percent matches what he notched in a PPP national poll conducted two weeks ago, but before then the last time he’d been as high in the polls as that was mid-June, right around the time that Trump jumped into the race. I’ve said this before but it bears repeating: Despite all the money he has in the bank, if Jeb has another nothingburger of a debate nine days from now while Rubio excels, I think that’s going to finish him as a credible establishment champion for the donor class, in which case he’ll have to decide whether to chug along tossing cash at media platforms to see if he can move his numbers with ads or drop out and get behind Rubio as the anti-Trump. This is now eight straight national polls where he’s trailed Rubio. It’s time for him to produce some ROI for his backers or concede that Bush 3.0 just isn’t happening.
Update: The vultures are circling for Jeb.
University of North Florida statewide poll of Republican primary likely voters finds Donald Trump leading with 21.7 percent, followed by Ben Carson 19.3 percent, Marco Rubio in third with 14.9 percent and Jeb Bush at a distant fourth with 9 percent. Asked the name their second choice 20.1 percent said Rubio, 14.9 percent said Carson, 11.1 percent said Carly Fiorina, 10.2 percent said Bush, 6.2 percent Ted Cruz, and 6 percent Trump.