Poll: Carson and Trump Still Most Popular Among Republicans, Heading Into Debate

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Ben Carson trumps The Donald in terms of basic popularity among all Americans, but they’re essentially even among Republicans – and well ahead of their top competitors according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll released in advance of Tuesday night’s Republican debate in Milwaukee.

71 percent of Republicans see Ben Carson favorably and 69 percent feel the same about Donald Trump. Both non-politicians outpace their more traditional rivals in this measure – Marco Rubio, seen favorably by 58 percent of Republicans; Jeb Bush, 56 percent; and Ted Cruz, 53 percent.

On the flip side, in unfavorable views overall, Bush has the highest negatives within the party, rated unfavorably by 37 percent of Republicans. On another measure, though, he has company: Twenty percent of Republicans see both Bush and Trump “strongly” unfavorably, vs. 7 percent for Cruz and a mere 4 percent for Carson and Rubio.

While Trump and Carson are rated very similarly overall within their party, the picture shifts outside the GOP, where Trump is considerably more unpopular. Among all adults, Carson has a 50 percent favorability rating, vs. 32 percent unfavorable. Trump’s ratings, by contrast, are 38-59 percent, favorable-unfavorable.

Among registered voters, moreover, Carson cracks a majority, with 53 percent seeing him favorably, vs. Trump’s 40 percent.

Strongly negative views of Trump, moreover, jump to 46 percent among all Americans in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates.  The comparative numbers for his competitors are much lower – Bush, seen strongly negatively by 28 percent; Cruz, 21 percent; Carson, 15 percent; and Rubio, 14 percent.

Notably, sizable numbers of Americans haven’t yet formed an opinion of three of these candidates – Cruz, 23 percent; Rubio, 22 percent, and even Carson – at this point 18 percent have no opinion of him. That slides to 9 percent for Bush and just 3 percent for Trump.

Not much movement is apparent: Carson’s positive rating is up by 5 percentage points among all Americans since late September, but his negative score has advanced by the same amount. Trump’s overall favorability hasn’t budged since midsummer. Bush’s ratings are basically the same as in late August. Cruz, compared with last spring, is +9 in favorability but +6 in unfavorable ratings. Rubio’s measurement is the first in an ABC/Post poll this cycle.

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