Last Wednesday, I relayed the story that Ben Carson was experiencing a windfall thanks to his comments about the incompatibility of Islam and the Oval Office. I theorized that this boon reflected a small resurgence of support for Carson, with Trump taking the biggest hit. “It appears Carson, perhaps accidentally, tapped into Donald Trump’s xenophobic base,” I said. “It stands to reason that if he does indeed rise in the polls, he would be taking from Trump’s numbers. . . . Any polls released in the next two days probably won’t reflect such movement, but watch out for polls early next week to do so.”
Yesterday, thanks to NBC and the Wall Street Journal, we got our first poll of “early next week.” And here’s what it said:
3. Fiorina, Rubio–11
8. Paul, Christie–3
11. Santorum, Jindal–1
13. All others: 0
Trump loses five points off his previous performance, where he earned 26 percent in a Fox News poll, while Carson, who only registered 14 points in the latest poll before last week, has steadily climbed to 16, 17, 18, and now 20.
Trump’s lead hasn’t been that small since he first led a national poll back on July 12. Carson has only once scored higher than 20 — he hit 23 in a CBS/New York Times poll released before the second debate — but Trump still led that poll by four points. Might our next poll show Carson on top?
We should not be surprised. Trump’s slide, though fairly slow, is very real. The six national polls before the debate were his best six-poll run of the entire primary. He ranged from 27 to 33 percent. In the five polls since the debate, however, he’s been between 21 and 26, hitting that lower number twice, including this most recent poll.
Meanwhile, thanks to their excellent debate performances, Marco Rubio and Carly Fiorina have enjoyed mostly double digit poll performances. With Bush still stuck in the high single digits, a clear top four in the polls have emerged for the foreseeable future.
However, those are not the four most likely nominees. This Thursday, I will debut my “first of the month Power Rankings,” where I rank all the candidates in likelihood of winning the nomination. Then we’ll really see what kind of prescience PPFA has. (Spoiler alert: it’s not much.)