Townhall/Hot Air Poll: The Donald Keeps Top Spot, Carly Sling Shots Into Top Tier Status

Matt Vespa
|
Posted: Sep 22, 2015 12:45 PM
Townhall/Hot Air Poll: The Donald Keeps Top Spot, Carly Sling Shots Into Top Tier Status

Townhall Media Group and Hot Air conducted another survey through SurveyMonkey, this time with 1,978 registered voters who aren’t part of the Salem orbit. There were some changes from our previous poll released in August. Carly Fiorina has sling shotted into the top tier at 10.38 percent, just behind Carson at 14.86 percent, while the Donald remains the king of the hill at 23 percent. Carson improved his standing in this poll; he was only at 8.13 percent in August.

For Jeb, who was previously the third-ranking candidate from the August poll, got bumped down to sixth, with Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) ahead of him; Rubio’s currently at fourth place with 6.87 percent. As for Walker, he barely appeared on radar, which is one of the many reasons why he dropped out of the race yesterday. On a side note, the undecideds are finally picking their horses in this campaign, dropping nine points since August 30 percent to 21 percent.

Forty-six percent said that Carly Fiorina won the second GOP debate. This is quite the landslide, and as Ed noted; the margin of victory “significantly outstrips her support for the nomination.” At the same time, the needle wasn’t moved with regards to voters changing their minds on candidates that they had originally backed. Less than 10 percent–8 percent to be exact­–said the debate made them reconsider their choice for president.

Concerning the Democrats, they prefer Sen. Bernie Sanders to Hillary Clinton by a seven-point margin (39/32), yet Ed noted that this could be due to us identifying Democratic-leaning independents better. With those who are solid Democrats, the two candidates are in a statistical dead heat 36/35.

As other polls have noted, Fiorina is surging, with some placing her right behind Trump. Regardless, her place in the top tier has been established, but we’re still in the dark regarding her shelf life. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker looked as if he was going to win Iowa, or at least have a strong showing there. He was positioned perfectly within the party as a fighter, someone who could unite the conservative and establishment wings, and has the record (and backstory) to carry a national campaign. He was a top tier candidate, whose campaign ended up being shorter than Kim Kardashian’s marriage to Kris Humphries.

With Carly, we should expect more attacks against her corporate record, which should make her supporters nervous. This seems to have played a role in her 10-point defeat against Barbara Boxer in the 2010 California Senate election. Those ghosts might come back to haunt her.

With the Democrats, this dispute over debates could metastasize into something more serious, though its immediate effect is giving fuel to the supporters in the O’Malley and Sanders camps, some of who are already heckling DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz for more debates. Clinton could be playing a long wait-and-see strategy regarding Sanders, her biggest threat for lack of a better term, as he’s projected to fare much worse after New Hampshire when the Democratic primary electorates become more diverse. He’s virtually unknown by nonwhite Democrats, which is why his campaign is starting to reach out to those voters, who overwhelmingly like Clinton. We’ll see if those numbers start to change–and we’re still on Biden watch, whose candidacy will draw support from both campaigns.

The overarching theme of this poll, and other taken by media organizations, is that this is an anti-establishment year. The country is fed up with Washington, which I why you have Donald Trump, Dr. Ben Carson, and now Carly Fiorina–all the non-politicians–leading the GOP field. On the Democrat side, you have them shrugging over Clinton, while Bernie reportedly has a 22-point lead over her in New Hampshire and a 10-point lead in Iowa. Yes, he’s been in Washington for decades, but his message is well outside of the mainstream, he’s an independent (though he caucuses with the Democrats), and for better or worse, the Democratic base seems to be eating it up, much like Republicans are loving Trump’s “make America great again” war cry.

It’s something new. It defies most of the advice that emanates from both political establishments (political correctness, not wearing hats, challenging potentially the first female president in our history)–and people love it. They’ve seen how both parties have governed, and they want change. For some, it has to be a radical change. That’s exemplified in how entrenched support is regarding the second debate. No one is really moving. Then again, we have a long way to go until February.

Read Ed's breakdown of the poll over at Hot Air.