It seems like only yesterday that we were here pointing out that Donald Trump’s lead over Ben Carson was at its lowest point in months. It seems that way because that is what we pointed out yesterday. In the polling average, Trump was only slightly ahead of Carson, and on a downward trend.
But Donald Trump’s campaign, from the outset, has been about ensuring that any predictions about his fate will be proven wrong before the concrete sets. And so, just out from Monmouth University, a poll showing Trump up by 10 points. It’s the first live-interview poll showing him ahead by that much since the end of September.
The short version of the story is that Trump gets support from 28 percent of the Republican field, which itself is the highest number he’s seen since the Washington Post/ABC News poll early last month. That’s 10 points higher than Carson’s 18 percent — but it’s actually down slightly from where Trump was in Monmouth’s last poll.
(In the graph below, dots under the line mark candidates doing worse than in September; those above, better. The further from the line, the bigger the change.)
Carson didn’t move. Ted Cruz, now alone in third, saw improvement. Last time around he was tied with Jeb Bush, but now Bush has fallen to five percent support. Good enough for sixth place. Well, not “good” enough, I guess.
Part of Bush’s problem is that he’s increasingly viewed badly by voters. For the first time in Monmouth polling, he’s underwater on favorability, with more people viewing him unfavorably than favorably. Trump’s net favorability dipped a bit over the last month, but he’s viewed much better than Bush. (Carson saw a slight slip in his net favorability, too, but he’s still far-and-away the most positively viewed Republican.)
We can remake the graph at the top of this post, thanks to updated data including a new CNN/ORC poll that showed Trump up by a decent margin. Here’s Trump’s lead, for each of the 94 days he’s held one.
See that big spike at the end? Yeah, Trump’s lead is no longer his smallest in months.
There’s only one safe prediction to make. Donald Trump: Once and forever your Republican front-runner.