In New Poll, Carson Pulls Up Alongside an Idling Trump

NYT FDPATRICK HEALY  Tuesday, September 15, 2015

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Good Tuesday morning. The day before the second Republican debate, campaigns are honing their strategies, Twitter is looking at donations, and polls are rearranging the numbers and the leader board. As big names fall, and Donald J. Trump sees only a modest gain, Ben Carson no longer has to look ahead to see the front-runner: He can just look to his side.

Mr. Carson has amassed considerable new support from Republican primary and caucus voters and is now running nearly even with Donald J. Trump as their pick for the party’s presidential nomination, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll published on Tuesday morning.

Far more than other Republican contenders, Mr. Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, has capitalized on his outsider message — a mix of anti-establishment views, delivered in a calmer tone than Mr. Trump’s, and socially conservative positions — to draw voters away from rivals and leap ahead in the poll. The proportion of Republican voters favoring Mr. Carson rose to 23 percent from 6 percent in the previous CBS News poll, which was taken just before the first televised Republican debate in early August. Over that same period, Mr. Trump made modest gains, to 27 percent from 24 percent.

Mr. Carson pulled at least some of his support from Republicans who are more typical political figures. Jeb Bush fell in the poll to 6 percent, from 13 percent, and Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin tumbled to 2 percent from 10 percent. No other candidates fell as much as those two, according to the poll. Mr. Carson drew more support from college graduates than Mr. Trump, while those without a college education were more likely to favor Mr. Trump.

Over all, 37 percent of Republican voters say their minds are made up about which candidate they will support as their party’s presidential nominee, while 63 percent say it is still too early to say. Slightly more than half of Mr. Trump’s backers say they have decided, while 46 percent said they could still switch candidates. Those who said they had made up their minds are twice as likely to support Mr. Trump over Mr. Carson. Women were less likely than men to support Mr. Trump and more likely than men to support Senator Marco Rubio of Florida.
The only other significant gain was made by the third outsider in the Republican field, Carly Fiorina, the former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard, who drew support from 4 percent of voters, compared with a trace amount in midsummer.
The New York Times/CBS News poll was conducted from Sept. 9 to 13 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus six percentage points for Republican primary voters. Additional findings from the full poll will be released on Tuesday evening, a day before the next Republican presidential debate.