‘A doozy’: CNN’s first post-debate poll shows big SHAKE UP in GOP race

If you were among the 23 million who watched Wednesday’s debate — the most-watched program in CNN’s history — some of the movement in CNN’s first post-debate poll may come as no surprise, given the performances we saw the other night. What may surprise you is the MAGNITUDE of some of this movement — both upward and downward.

Indeed, Jake Tapper notes multiple “bombshells” and a “jaw-dropper,” calling the poll overall a “remarkable shakeup.” The new poll shows previous leaders Trump and Carson down, Fiorina way UP, and one candidate taking a jaw-dropping nose-dive.

As CNN reports this morning:

Carly Fiorina shot into second place in the Republican presidential field on the heels of another strong debate performance, and Donald Trump has lost some support, a new national CNN/ORC poll shows.

The survey, conducted in the three days after 23 million people tuned in to Wednesday night’s GOP debate on CNN, shows that Trump is still the party’s front-runner with 24% support. That, though, is an 8 percentage point decrease from earlier in the month when a similar poll had him at 32%.

Fiorina ranks second with 15% support — up from 3% in early September. She’s just ahead of Ben Carson’s 14%, though Carson’s support has also declined from 19% in the previous poll.

Driving Trump’s drop and Fiorina’s rise: a debate in which 31% of Republicans who watched said Trump was the loser, and 52% identified Fiorina as the winner.

During the CNN debate, Fiorina clashed with Trump over his personal attacks and their business records and scored points for her condemnation of Planned Parenthood.

The top three contenders underscore a key theme in the 2016 race: In a jampacked GOP presidential field, the leading candidates are the only ones who have never held political office. 

But one established politician has seen his standing rise after flashing foreign policy chops on the debate stage. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida — identified as Wednesday’s winner by 14% of Republicans, putting him second behind Fiorina — is now in fourth place with 11% support, up from 3% in a previous poll.

In fifth place is former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, at 9%. He’s followed by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee at 6% each, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky at 4%, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at 3%, Ohio Gov. John Kasich at 2% and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania at 1%. 

Five other candidates received less than one-half of 1 percentage point support: former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former New York Gov. George Pataki and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. 

Especially stark is Gov. Scott Walker’s collapse — his less than one-half of 1 percentage point support that puts him in the same league as the candidates relegated to the early “undercard” debate.

The biggest positive movement was in favor of Fiorina, whose favorability rating has climbed by 9 percentage points since August. And the biggest drop hit Trump, who shed 6 percentage points in that same period. 

Will some of the new poll numbers following this second debate lead to further thinning of the field? That kind of movement would certainly allow more focus on the remaining candidates and allow voters to get to know each one better.

Regardless of which horse you back in this race, one bit of data from this poll should give be cause for optimism for all of us anxious to see a GOP leader take the White House in 2016:

The poll offered some good overall news for Republicans: 65% of GOP voters said they are either “extremely” or “very” enthusiastic about voting in the 2016 presidential race, compared with 51% of Democrats. 

Let’s hope that particular trend, at least, holds as we march forward for the next 14 months!


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