Real-estate mogul Donald Trump’s poll standing deflated in the first national survey released after his loss to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in the Monday-night Iowa caucuses.
Trump remained in first place in the survey, which was conducted by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling and is set to be released later Thursday. He received 25% of the vote from Republican-primary voters nationally. Cruz and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) tied for second at 21% apiece.
Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson grabbed 11%. None of the remaining candidates received more than 5% of the vote.
It was a stark contrast from Public Policy Polling’s last national survey released in mid-December. That poll found Trump, at 34%, maintaining a large national lead over both Cruz (18%) and Rubio (13%). Rubio appeared to benefit the most from a stronger-than-expected showing in the Iowa caucuses, in which he nearly caught up to Trump. His poll standing was up eight points from December.
As the candidates barrel toward New Hampshire, which holds the first primary next Tuesday, early signs have shown Rubio climbing there in the wake of his Iowa performance.
A University of Massachusetts Lowell tracking poll, conducted daily, found Rubio jumping into New Hampshire’s No. 2 spot in Thursday’s release. Trump, however, still had more than a 20-point lead.
The Public Policy Polling survey could also lend credence to many Rubio supporters’ argument that he could be the Republican establishment’s best option to take down Trump and Cruz, whose potential nominations have unnerved many in the party’s mainstream.
The poll found the most support for Rubio in a theoretical three-man race for the nomination, with 34% picking the Florida senator compared with 33% for Trump and 25% for Cruz. He would also best Trump and Cruz in theoretical head-to-head bouts for the nomination. And his 64% favorability rating among Republican voters nationally trailed only retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson in that measure.
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