A national poll from Fox News out today shows Donald Trump continuing to lead the field (take national polls at this point with a grain of salt; we took a look at the Democratic results this morning).
Trump is still driving the clown car, leading with 25 percent. Neither his performance at the debate nor his bloody spat with Megyn Kelly has dinged The Donald at all in Fox polling.
The other contenders:
Ben Carson 12 percent
Ted Cruz 10 percent
Jeb Bush 9 percent
Mike Huckabee had a less embarrassing showing than other recent polling, notching 6 percent. Scott Walker also got 6 percent, Carly Fiorina got a mini-surge to 5 percent, John Kasich and Marco Rubio got 4 percent, Chris Christie got 3 percent. The others got 1 percent or less.
If the headline is that Trump maintains his lead, the other big story here is that Ben Carson appears to have won the debate. This is at least a little bit surprising if you watched the debate since Carson seemed nervous and at times shockingly unprepared. A brilliant neurosurgeon, he doesn’t seem very good at politics or to know much about policy (and his speaking style kind of reminds of Michael Cera). But hey, maybe that’s the point: between Carson, Trump, and Fiorina, 42 percent of GOP voters favor someone who has never held elective office.
If you follow what conservatives say on social media (something I spend too much time doing, I’m afraid), there were definitely plenty of base voters who liked Carson, thought that he got a raw deal from the Fox moderators (also a complaint among Trump fans), and seemed to particularly like Carson’s comments on race (“it’s time for us to move beyond that,” Carson said). So maybe I’m just not the right audience. In any case, he was the closest thing that the debate had to a winner. Via Philip Bump at the Washington Post, here’s a chart showing the change in support in the Fox News poll pre- and post-debate:
Trump, as you can see, stayed more or less the same. Fiorinia (up 3 points) and Cruz (up 4 points) both got a bump, and the biggest bump came for Carson, up 5 points. Meanwhile establishment candidates Walker and Bush both lost ground and establishment Plan C Marco Rubio remains nowhere to be found.
Given their advantages in terms of institutional support and fundraising, it remains likely that one of Walker, Bush, or Rubio will be the nominee in the end. But this is a wild and unpredictable race, so who knows. Thus far, GOP primary voters just don’t have any enthusiasm for those guys, preferring a bag of mixed nuts.