There are all kinds of headlines in a new post-Fox News debate CNN poll of the Republican field. Despite yet-another round of shrill Thought Leader predictions of doom and gloom after Donald Trump’s three-day spat with debate moderator Megyn Kelly, the billionaire businessman has actually widened his first place lead over the rest of the field and, more importantly, on a number of key issues.
In fact, the only candidates who noticeably benefitted from the debate are outside the Republican Establishment.
In the horse race, Trump currently enjoys a commanding lead over second place Jeb Bush, 24% to 13%. Prior to the debate, in this same poll, Trump was ahead of Bush by just 4 points, 19% to 15%.
Third place Ben Carson jumped 4 points, from 4% to 8%; 7th place Carly Fiorina jumped 4 points, from 1% to 5%. She is tied with John Kasich (who gained only 1 point) and leading Chris Christie (4%), Ted Cruz (who lost -2 points and now sits at 4%), Mike Huckabee ( who lost -1 point and now sits at 4%), and Rick Perry (who lost -1 point and now sits at 2%.
The numbers almost certain to make the GOP Establishment lash out with even more impotent rage can be found in the poll’s internals.
Trump ‘s favorability rating with all registered voters (not just Republicans) is higher than Jeb’s, 38% to 35%. Trump’s unfavorable rating is only 1 point higher than Jeb’s, 58% to 57%. It should be noted that both men by far have the highest unfavorable rating with all registered voters. Other Republican candidates polled don’t rise above 32% (they are also less well-known).
Trump’s earns positive ratings from 60% of Republican women and 57% of men.
Trend-wise, Jeb’s unfavorables have exploded since May, rising from 40% to 56%. His lack of energy and utter inability to put forth a cohesive answer on the question of Iraq have undoubtedly played a role in this.
Trump’s unfavorables, while still high, have actually decreased since April, from 64% to 59%.
Trump is absolutely thumping the rest of the field on any number of key issues. On the issue of the economy, 45% of GOP voters trust Trump, up from +19% last month. His closest rival on this question is Bush, who earns just 9% support.
On illegal immigration, Trump holds a commanding 44% lead over Bush’s 12%. This is a +31 point jump for Trump.
On ISIS, Trump sits at 24% to Bush’s 16%. Cruz comes in third at 6%. On social issues “such as abortion and same-sex marriage,” Trump leads with 18%. Bush and Carson sit at 14% and 12%, respectively.
With Trump’s favorables within the GOP climbing into the high fifties and his near 50% rating on key issues, the bottom line is that Trump has room to grow. All this Thought Leader talk about his ceiling being stuck at 25% is belied by these internals.
While 58% of Republicans believe the Party has a better chance of winning the presidency without Trump, that means that 42% disagree.
And in a field of more than two candidates, 42% is more than enough to with the nomination.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC