Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump remains in the lead for the GOP nomination, but his most recent controversial comments, his internal campaign woes and the rise of other Republican challengers may affect the 17-candidate field.
According to a poll released by NBC News on Aug. 9, 23 percent of Republican primary voters continue to support Trump. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, praised for his performance in the debate, was in second with 13 percent of the vote. Placing in third is Dr. Ben Carson, with 11 percent of Republican voters backing his campaign.
Due to her success in the 5 p.m. “happy hour” debate, 2010 California Senate candidate Carly Fiorina’s campaign received a much-needed boost, with 8 percent of voters now supporting her. Fiorina is now tied in fourth place with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, while former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker are right behind with 7 percent of the vote each.
In terms of the debate, many voters felt Trump did not defeat his opponents, with 29 percent of respondents saying Trump performed the worst of all the candidates in the debate. Fiorina received the most praise — 22 percent of those polled felt she was the strongest performer.
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Another telling question showcased how informed the voters in the poll were before the survey. Of those polled, 58 percent did not watch the debates live and only some followed the debates through news coverage the next day. Only 18 percent of respondents watched both debates on Aug. 6.
Trump’s high poll numbers continue to surprise many and even more so after his latest batch of controversial comments aimed at the debate’s lone female moderator, Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly.
Shortly after the debate, Trump criticized Kelly’s questioning saying, “The questions to me were not nice. I didn’t think they were appropriate.” He later retweeted a message on Twitter that referred to Kelly as a “bimbo” and called Fox News “unprofessional.”
His most jarring comments came in an interview with CNN’s Don Lemon on Aug. 7.
“You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes,” Trump said of Kelly. “Blood coming out of her wherever.”
He also criticized Fiorina, saying that listening to her “for more than 10 minutes straight, you develop a massive headache.”
CNN also noted that Trump’s campaign staff is turning over rapidly. The most recent ouster is Roger Stone, the campaign’s top political adviser. In a letter to Trump, Stone states the overwhelming negative publicity Trump’s comments continue to receive, which have overshadowed the message of the campaign.