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GOP Voters Up Carson’s, Fiorina’s Chances for the Nomination

Friday, September 18, 2015

Jeb Bush is treading water, but Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina appear to have dramatically improved their chances for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. Carson is now in a virtual tie with recent front-runner Donald Trump.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 59% of Likely Republican Voters now think Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, is likely to win the Republican nomination, with 16% who say it’s Very Likely. Just 25% thought Carson was likely to end up as the nominee when he formally announced for the race in early May. 

Our latest Trump Change survey shows that 58% of GOP voters think Trump is likely to be the party’s nominee, but that includes 23% who say it’s Very Likely. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

These surveys were taken on the night of the latest Republican debate and the night after.

Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO who turned in a strong performance at Wednesday night’s debate, is now seen as the likely nominee by 41% of Republican voters, up from 16% in early May when she joined the race. But the new numbers include just nine percent (9%) who say Fiorina is Very Likely to capture the nomination.

Forty percent (40%) of Republicans think Bush is likely to end up as the GOP nominee, but only six percent (6%) say it’s Very Likely. This overall finding is little changed from last week just before the debate but down from 56% in June when the former Florida governor officially announced his candidacy.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely U.S. Voters was conducted on September 16-17, 2015 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

There were two major storylines going into this week’s debate at the Reagan Presidential Library in California: Bush’s showdown with Trump in hopes of reclaiming the lead and Fiorina’s ascension to the A-debate stage. Bush seems to have come up short, while Fiorina clearly benefited.

Fifty-four percent (54%) of Republicans say Bush is not likely to be the party’s presidential candidate in 2016. Just as many (53%) believe Fiorina will not go all the way. However, only 35% think Carson is unlikely to win the nomination, comparable to attitudes about Trump.

Among all likely voters, 45% think Carson is likely to be the Republican nominee next year, while 42% feel that way about Bush. Thirty-two percent (32%) see Fiorina as the likely nominee. The number who consider that Very Likely is in single digits for all three candidates.

Forty-seven percent (47%) of all voters say Trump is still likely to win the nomination, with 19% who say it is Very Likely.

While men think Trump has a better shot at the nomination that women do, male and female voters are in general agreement about the chances of Bush, Carson and Fiorina.

Voters not affiliated with either major party still like Trump’s chances for the nomination better than those of the other three GOP hopefuls.

The outsider candidates – the ones who haven’t held office before – appear to be the beneficiaries of the growing dissatisfaction Republican voters have with the establishment GOP.

Eighty-nine percent (89%) of Likely Republican Voters said earlier this week that they were likely to watch or follow news reports about the debate, with 71% who said they were Very Likely to do so. Fifty-two percent (52%) said they have changed the way they are going to vote after watching a debate between presidential candidates.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

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