A new poll from IBD/TIPP finds Donald Trump’s national support slipping since early January.
Trump continues to lead the Republican field with 31 percent, down 3 points in the past two weeks. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is in second with 21 percent, a 3 point gain since the beginning of the month.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is a distant third with 10 percent, followed by neurosurgeon Ben Carson with 9 percent. Jeb Bush is fifth, with just 5 percent support.
According to IBD, Trump’s drop is attributable to his recent attacks on Ted Cruz. The poll notes:
While Trump’s attacks didn’t move the needle among conservatives, his support among moderates fell from 39% to 24%, while Cruz’s jumped from 5% to 18%
A decrease in support for Trump as a result of the attacks on Cruz wouldn’t be entirely surprising. There is a reason most campaigns prefer to have outside groups or individuals attack a candidate’s rival. While the attack may hurt the rival, there is usually some drop in support for the person making the attack.
If anything, Trump’s drop confirms that the GOP frontrunner is immune to the normal dynamics of a political campaign.
The attacks do seem to have left a mark on Cruz. Although he has gained support as a first choice for voters, the number of voters who consider him a good second choice has declined. Prior to this poll, Cruz was leading the race to be the voters’ “second choice,”,which is meaningful in so volatile a race. Marco Rubio is now the leading “second choice” for Republican voters.
Trump’s 10-point margin over the rest of the field in this poll is far smaller than the margin he enjoys in many recent polls. The IBD result is interesting, though, because it was rated the most accurate poll in the final three weeks of the 2012 campaign.
It was also the most accurate poll in the 2008 and 2004 Presidential contests.
This poll was conducted January 22-27, largely before Trump’s decision to boycott the Republican debate on Thursday. In a sense, this poll is already outdated, because Trump’s move is likely to broadly impact polling in the race in the days ahead.
Of course, a national poll like this will also be impacted by the results of the Iowa Caucus vote on Monday. The results of that contest traditionally have a big impact on national polling. Still, it is interesting that as the caucus vote nears, the national race for the nomination seems to be getting closer.