Ben Carson Vaults to Lead in Latest Journal/NBC Poll
Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson has overtaken businessman Donald Trump as the top pick of Republican primary voters to be the party’s presidential nominee, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds.
The result marks the first time since June that the Journal/NBC News poll has found a Republican other than Mr. Trump to be leading the GOP field. Some 29% of GOP primary voters rank Mr. Carson as their top choice, while 23% favor Mr. Trump.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz rank third and fourth as the top pick of 11% and 10% of Republican primary voters, respectively.
Some 8% prefer former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. No other Republican garners more than 3% support.
Full results of the new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll will be released at midnight.
Support for Mr. Carson has tripled since July, and he is the first Republican to top 50% when voters’s first and second choices are combined. Unlike some Republicans who surged in the GOP contest four years ago, Mr. Carson’s support has grown steadily during the primary campaign, suggesting that it may prove more durable than for those earlier candidates.
The retired pediatric neurosurgeon is the top pick of every segment of the GOP electorate, but he performs best among social conservatives. He draws strong support from “value voters”—people who cite abortion and other social issues as top concerns—and from people who attend church services weekly, as well as from Republicans who make less than $75,000 a year.
Mr. Carson draws the softest support from Republicans who make more than $75,000 and those who attend church less than once a week.
While Mr. Trump cedes the top spot for the first time since June, support for him remains relatively stable, down two percentage points from a Journal/NBC News poll conducted two weeks before the latest survey.
For Mr. Bush, the Journal/NBC News survey of 400 Republican primary voters, conducted Oct. 25-29, reaffirms the difficult path facing his campaign. Once considered the party’s front-runner, Mr. Bush, at 8% support, is drawing a far smaller share than the 22% who named him as their top pick in June.
The former Florida governor registers little support among the most conservative segments of the GOP, including tea-party supporters, talk-radio listeners and those Republicans supporting Messrs. Carson and Trump. He draws his largest share of support from moderate or liberal Republican primary voters, as well as from those who say they are not open to supporting Messrs. Carson and Trump.
“He continues to go backward, and his presidential prospects appear dimmer by the day,” said Democratic pollster Fred Yang, who conducted the survey with Republican Bill McInturff.
The Journal survey was conducted before and after the most recent Republican presidential debate last Wednesday night. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points among the 400 Republican primary voters.