Poll: Five-Way Tie in GOP Race as Carson Moves Up

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The race for the Republican presidential nomination is tightly packed at the top, according to a new Quinnipiac poll released Thursday, with Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Mike Huckabee, and Ben Carson each receiving 10 percent support.

The second tier includes Rand Paul at 7 percent, Ted Cruz at 6 percent, Donald Trump at 5 percent, Chris Christie at 4 percent, and Carly Fiorina and John Kasich at 2 percent each. With 1 percent of support or less, other potential or declared candidates, including Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, George Pataki, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum, would not presently qualify for the 10 spots in Fox News’ Aug. 6 debate.

The new results are especially positive for Carson, who has never held public office but provides an anti-establishment option for conservative voters. According to the poll, he receives as much support from respondents who called themselves either very or somewhat conservative as evangelical or Tea Party-supported candidates Cruz, Huckabee, and Walker. (Carson outperforms Cruz among voters who self-identified as moderate or liberal.) The poll also shows the biggest monthly gain for the former neurosurgeon, whose support jumped seven percentage points over Quinnipiac’s April 23 poll.

The percentage of undecided Republican voters has also increased six points over the previous month, to 20 percent. As more candidates enter the GOP race—Bush, Walker, Graham, Trump, Kasich, and Jindal have yet to announce, and Pataki and Santorum have only declared their candidacies in the past 24 hours—these undecided voters could be instrumental in determining who qualifies for primary debates and ultimately wins the nomination.

Likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton continues to lead all of her potential Republican challengers. She tops both Paul and Rubio by four points and outpolls all other GOP opponents by seven points or more. She also leads the Democratic pack by a wide margin, with 57 percent of Democratic voters indicating support for her, compared to 9 percent for Joe Biden, 15 percent for Bernie Sanders, and 14 percent undecided.

Additionally, the poll indicates possible trouble ahead for several candidates. Seventeen percent of Republican participants responded that they would in “no way” support Bush for the presidency, with 15 percent indicating the same for Christie and a whopping 21 percent for Trump. A plurality of voters indicated that they thought that neither Clinton, Rubio, Paul, nor Bush is trustworthy; however, whereas 60 percent thought that Clinton has strong leadership qualities, only 42 and 45 percent said the same for Rubio and Paul, respectively.

Currently, the RealClearPolitics average for the Republican nomination has Bush in front with 14.8 percent of the vote, compared to 13 percent for Walker, 12.2 percent for Rubio, 9.2 percent each for Huckabee and Carson, and 9 percent or less for all other contenders. The RCP average for the Democratic nomination shows Clinton with 63.6 percent support, 12.5 percent for Elizabeth Warren, 9.5 percent for Biden, and 8.8 percent for Sanders.

The survey of 1,711 registered voters, conducted May 19-26, has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.4 percentage points. It includes 679 Republicans, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points, and 748 Democrats, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points. 

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