The first CNN poll after last week’s debate shows that Trump and Carson’s upward trend has reversed as some of their support went to Carly Fiorina and Marco Rubio.
Donald Trump still leads the GOP pack with 24% support, but that’s down 8 points in just two weeks. The first time Trump has seen his poll numbers decline.
Carly Fiorina is enjoying the fruits of an impressive debate performance. Fiorina jumped 12 points and into second place in-between Trump and last week’s phenom, Ben Carson.
Carson’s debate performance wasn’t terrible, but a certain lack of strength in his delivery seems to have pushed some of his support to Fiorina and Rubio.
Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, John Kasich and Rick Santorum are all within a single point of their last poll showing as their debate performances failed to bring more support, but also did not do anything to hurt them.
Graham, Jindal, Pataki, Gilmore and Walker are in the left-for-dead (aka less than 1% support) pool.
The poll continues to show why Trump will continue to struggle. His unfavorable statistic is as astronomical as Hillary Clinton’s while Carson, Rubio and Fiorina enjoy high favorable ratings with sub-20% unfavorables.
Unfavorable ratings are important as they represent a population that would vote for “anyone but Trump.” As the single-digit candidates fade out, their previous support goes somewhere – and it won’t go to someone they absolutely don’t like. As Walker, Kasich, Paul, Christie et al resign the run for president, that 25%+ of the voting population will select a new candidate. That new choice is likely to have a 10-20% unfavorable rating with a 50%+ favorable statistic.
Carly Fiorina has another statistic in her favor. 21% of those polled had still never heard of her. That means that she has another 21 points of possible support as she gets the increased coverage, interview time and advertising dollars that come with high poll numbers. That 21% could become support for her or any other candidate, but they are hers to court in coming months.
Donald Trump has 100% exposure. Absolutely everybody that was polled knew who he was. The billionaire reality show star has no unexplored territory from which to gain support. Increased ad buys, campaign stops and television time will likely cement a fervent base, but do little to add to his numbers.