By Reid Wilson
October 6, 2015 at 3:46 pm ET
Real estate mogul Donald Trump retains his commanding lead in the race for the Republican presidential race, a new poll finds, even though many voters say they view the bombastic billionaire in an unfavorable light.
Trump takes 31 percent of the vote in the new Morning Consult poll, easily outpacing retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson’s 13 percent. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) finishes in third place, at 10 percent, followed by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), at 7 percent.
The survey marks the first time Rubio draws more support than Bush, his one-time mentor. Rubio has seen his poll numbers double in the last two weeks, from 5 percent in mid-September, fueled by a strong performance in the second Republican debate. His emergence as a top-tier contender has fueled concerns among Bush backers that the former Florida governor is not nearly as inevitable as was once thought.
Bush’s support, which peaked at 13 percent in July, has been cut almost in half. Trump’s support, too, has dipped over the last month, from a high of 37 percent in late August.
Former Hewlett-Packard executive Carly Fiorina, buoyed by her own strong debate performance last month, sits in fifth place, with 6 percent, just ahead of Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) 5 percent. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) and Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) are tied at 4 percent, followed by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) at 3 percent.
In the race for the Democratic nomination, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton maintains a 21-point lead over her nearest rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Clinton takes 48 percent, compared with 27 percent for Sanders.
It is the second straight tracking poll in which Clinton has attracted less than half of self-identified Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents. Clinton’s support, measured at 59 percent in late July, is down eleven points in the last two months. Over that same period, Sanders’ support has grown eleven points, up from 16 percent in late July.
After two months in the national spotlight, Sanders has become much better-known among voters. Forty-one percent see Sanders in a favorable light today, compared with just 27 percent who viewed him favorably in late July. The number of registered voters who say they don’t know enough about him or have never heard of him has dropped from 44 percent in July to 27 percent today. Sanders, Carson and Fiorina are the only three candidates whose favorable ratings are higher than their unfavorable ratings.
Clinton’s own favorable ratings remain distinctly negative. Just 42 percent see Clinton favorably, while 53 percent see her unfavorably. Thirty-nine percent say they view the former Secretary very unfavorably.
Clinton, Sanders, former Govs. Martin O’Malley (D) and Lincoln Chafee (D) and former Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) will meet next week for their first debate, in Las Vegas.
The poll shows President Obama’s job approval rating at 43 percent, up three points last week’s poll. Just 30 percent of Americans say the country is headed in the right direction, compared with 70 percent who say things are headed off on the wrong track.
The Morning Consult tracking poll surveyed 1,983 registered voters between October 2-5, for a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points. A subsample of 807 self-identified Republicans and Republican-leaning independents carried a margin of error of plus or minus 3.45 percentage points. The subsample of 827 self-identified Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents carried an identical margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.