Donald Trump's front-runner status has virtually evaporated

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson has climbed into a virtual tie with real-estate magnate Donald Trump, according to a new poll.

A new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released Sunday shows Carson with 20% support among Republican primary voters nationally, just 1 point below Trump.

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) tied for third in the poll, both grabbing 11%.

Trump and his campaign have attempted to play down and outright deny his slight dip and overall failure to gain ground in recent polls.

But the NBC/WSJ survey is more evidence, at least, of stagnation. Trump is up 2% from the same poll in July, while other candidates continue to gain on the man who has been the party front-runner for almost three months.

Earlier this week, Trump told Business Insider that the media was failing to highlight several polls and polling averages that still show him far ahead in the race for the Republican nomination.

“It’s dishonest reporting and — let me change it — it’s knowingly dishonest,” Trump said. “Because the polls speak for themselves. I’m up. Check out Zogby. Check out Reuters — the Reuters — what do they call that? The Reuters average. Even The Huffington Post. Check all of them.”

Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski pointed out that other candidates — the majority of whom have never seen their support grow beyond single digits in the polls — would likely be thrilled to have Trump’s level of support.

“If you were any other candidate in this race, you would welcome the opportunity to have Mr. Trump’s poll numbers,” Lewandowski said.

Att the moment, Trump’s numbers appear to have stalled. But he still maintains an ever-so-slight lead, and his numbers haven’t dropped in the fashion of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R). Sunday’s NBC/WSJ poll shows Bush with 7% support, down 7% from July.

Still, other political “outsider” candidates have continued to gain on Trump.

Sunday’s NBC/WSJ poll also provides evidence the momentum Fiorina has built on the back of two strong debate performances. She had essentially no support when the previous NBC/WSJ poll was conducted in July, but has jumped into a tie for third place. Carson’s support, meanwhile, has doubled since July, from 10% to 20%.

In the conversation with Business Insider this week, Trump said he could not answer questions about if frequently emphasising the strength of his poll numbers would come back to haunt him if his numbers begin to drop.

“I can’t tell you,” Trump told Business Insider. “My numbers have just gone up. I just can’t tell you.”

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