TRENTON — A new Monmouth University Poll carries bad news for incumbents like Gov. Chris Christie, John Kasich, and Scott Walker, and great news for outsiders like Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina.
Carson and Trump are now tied for the top spot among likely Iowa Republican caucus-goers with 23 percent of the vote, with Fiorina third with 10 percent.
“Scott Walker and Chris Christie were both ‘straight-talk’ candidates who were going to get the ‘telling it like it is’ crowd — Walker in Iowa and Christie in New Hampshire,” said Patrick Murray, the director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch.
“It looks like neither one of them are contenders for that now.”
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Trailing businessman Trump, retired neurosurgeon Carson and businesswoman Fiorina, the rest of the GOP 2016 pack languishes in single digits in Iowa: U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas (9 percent); Walker, the governor of Wisconsin (7 percent); former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (5 percent); Kasich, the governor of of Ohio (4 percent); U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida (4 percent); and U.S. Rand Paul of Kentucky (3 percent).
Prior Iowa caucus victors former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania each garner 2 percent of the vote. None of the other six candidates, including Christie, registered more than 1 percent support.
Murray’s polling data also carries exceptionally bad news for those hoping to be a second choice should the plain-speaking Trump drop out.
“(In Iowa,) people basically say they’re not going to go back to Walker, even if their candidates fall to the wayside,” said Murray. “It doesn’t look like Walker or Christie can win these people back, because after you’ve been with Trump, people like them seem a little tired or trite.”
Walker’s support has dropped by 15 points since mid-July while Carson’s has increased by 15 points, and Trump’s by 10 points.
And given this anti-establishment sentiment prevailing in the early primary states, any attempt by candidates like Christie to respond to Trump “digs the hole even deeper,” Murray said.
“Trump proposes building the most beautiful wall ever built. This leads to Christie putting UPC codes on everybody crossing the Rio Grand. That’s what it comes down to: A pale imitation,” said Murray.
Campaigning in New Hampshire on Saturday, Christie said he planned to hire Federal Express founder Fred Smith to end illegal immigration using biometric tracking technology akin to the kind employed by FedEx to track its packages.
Christie is the second choice of just 3 percent of potential GOP Iowa caucus-goers. Kasich is the second choice of 2 percent, Bush, 5 percent, and Walker, 9 percent.
However, only 12 percent of likely Republican caucus-goers say they are completely decided on which candidate they will support in February. Just 25 percent say they have their choice narrowed down to one or two candidates.
The Monmouth poll was conducted from August 27 to 30, 2015 with a statewide random sample of 405 Iowa voters, with a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points.
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Claude Brodesser-Akner may be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @ClaudeBrodesser. Find NJ.com Politics on Facebook.
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