NBC Poll: Fiorina Wins Debate, Trump Extends Lead

Carly Fiorina speak during the Republican presidential debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California on September 16, 2015. Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump stepped into a campaign hornet's nest as his rivals collectively turned their sights on the billionaire in the party's second debate of the …
Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

A new survey from NBC, taken in the wake of the second Republican debate, finds Donald Trump extending his lead for the nomination and support surging for businesswoman Carly Fiorina. Trump has 29 percent support, up from 22 percent last month.

Fiorina, who didn’t register any support before summer, has surged into third place with 11 percent support. Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson edged higher and is now in second place, with 14 percent support.

The three outsider candidates, none of whom have held elected office, have the support of a strong majority, 54 percent, of the Republican electorate. Jeb Bush is fourth, with 8 percent support, followed by Sen. Ted Cruz and Sen. Marco Rubio, each with 7 percent.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker saw the biggest drop in his support in the aftermath of the second debate. He now registers just 2 percent support among Republicans. Before summer, he and Bush led the GOP field, with 12 percent support each.

A large plurality of Republicans who watched or followed the debate said Fiorina had the best night (36 percent), followed by Donald Trump (21 percent). Only small numbers of Republicans felt any of the other candidates won the debate.

The poll also found that the Republican electorate is looking at the 2016 nomination as a change election. More than a third of Republicans, 37 percent, said the ability to “bring change” was the most important quality in a nominee. Only 3 percent said having the “right experience” was the most important factor in determining their vote.

An overwhelming majority of Republicans, 70 percent, want the candidate to withdraw the U.S. from the recent nuclear agreement with Iran. A similarly strong majority, 61 percent, want a candidate to support defunding Planned Parenthood.

In a troubling finding for Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio, 59 percent of Republicans said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who supported a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

The NBC poll was an on-line survey conducted with research firm Survey Monkey. Results are based on responses from more than 2,000 Republicans with a margin of error of 2.9 percent.


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