Donald Trump is not only expanding his lead in the Republican presidential race.
According to a new CNN/ORC poll out Tuesday, the real-estate tycoon has built out a dominating lead on two of the issues most important to Republican voters.
CNN asked respondents, regardless of whom they plan to vote for, which GOP candidate they think can can best handle the economy and illegal immigration.
And the swing of support to Trump’s campaign was incredible.
A walloping 45% of respondents said Trump was best candidate to improve the US economy. The next-closest contender was former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), who had a mere 8% say the same about his potential stewardship.
Bush was followed by former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, with 6%, and then three other candidates with 5%: Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R).
Trump’s position is even more dominating if it’s compared to his support on the issue at the end of June, when CNN/ORC last asked voters the economy question. Then, just 19% said Trump was the best candidate to handle the economy, compared to 20% for Bush.
The core of Trump’s campaign platform is based off of his opposition to illegal immigration and his heated — and sometimes controversial — rhetoric describing it. And Republican voters seem to be responding: 44% of them told CNN that Trump was the best candidate to handle the issue.
None of Trump’s primary rivals came close. Twelve per cent of GOP voters said Bush would be the best to handle illegal immigration, followed by three candidates who lagged on the economy question: former Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) at 7%, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) at 6%, and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) at 5%.
At the end of June, just 13% of respondents said Trump was the best candidate to handle illegal immigration, compared to 21% for Bush.
Trump released an outline of his immigration plan on Sunday.
Trump got slightly less soaring reviews when it came to national security. Asked which candidate would best handle the Islamic State militants in the Middle East, also known as ISIS or ISIL, 32% of Republicans said Trump.
Bush again came in second on the issue (16%), followed by Cruz (6%), Carson (5%), and the others close behind that. CNN didn’t provide older poll results for comparison on the issue.
If there’s a clear weakness for Trump on the issues, it may be on topics like abortion and same-sex marriage.
Just 18% of Republican voters said Trump would be the best candidate on social issues, compared to 14% for Bush and 12% for Carson. At the end of June, Trump had even less support, 8%, on social issues. (Bush was at 17% then.)
The New York businessman rarely mentions abortion and same-sex marriage on the campaign trail, and these numbers could be a reflection of that. Many years ago, he described himself as “totally pro-choice.” He has since evolved on the issue and now describes himself as pro-life.
CNN also asked Republicans if they think their party would win the 2016 general election with Trump as their nominee.
These results were also not especially favourable to Trump. A majority of respondents — 58% — said the party would have a “better chance with someone else,” while just 38% said Trump would boost Republican chances.
However, due to a crowded GOP primary field with as many as 17 different candidates, the winning candidate could possibly become the nominee without support from a majority.
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