The latest Economist/YouGov poll indicates Jeb Bush may have fallen out of the Republican top tier

As the Republican candidates for President get ready for their next debate tonight, the potential 2016 GOP voters continue to express their support for non-traditional candidates. Businessman Donald Trump and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson maintain their lead in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll as the top choices of registered voters who identify as Republicans. Carson pulls even with Trump when Republican voters name their second choice: just about four in ten say each man is their first or second choice.  

More than a third of Trump supporters say Carson is their second choice; one in four Carson supporters name Trump as their next favorite candidate. This week’s poll was conducted while news stories about whether or not some of Carson’s statements about his early life could be verified by the news media, but Trump’s and Carson’s standings among Republicans are similar to their support levels in the previous Economist/YouGov Poll, conducted two weeks ago. 

Two first-term Senators run third and fourth behind Trump and Carson: Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Texas Senator Ted Cruz are the only other candidates who reach double-digits in this poll. 

The poll shows a marked decline for the man once thought of as the party’s most likely nominee, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.  Only 3% of Republicans give Bush their support. Two weeks ago, 8% named Bush as their choice.  Bush’s support today puts him at about the same level nationally as two men, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee, who will not even appear in the 8-person prime time Fox Business Channel debate tonight.  Additionally, Republicans’ favorable ratings of Bush have dropped steadily.  This week, slightly more have an unfavorable view of Bush as have a favorable one.

Three in four Republican voters would like to winnow the still-crowded GOP field: more than half want a few of those who have been running far behind to drop out.  More than a third (35%) of all Republicans say Bush should leave the race.  19% want Trump to drop out; fewer say that about Cruz, Rubio or Carson.

Even as his support dropped, Bush was still regarded as a possible nomination winner by Republicans.  But this week, only 6% of Republican voters think Bush will be their party’s nominee.  More see Trump, Carson and Rubio as likely nomination winners.  Less than half of Republicans (44%) think Bush could win the general election, the lowest percentage in Economist/YouGov polls.  Two weeks ago, 53% thought Bush could win a general election against a Democratic nominee.

Majorities of Republicans this week see the current top four Republicans as electable.

Tonight’s Fox Business Channel debate will be the fourth for Republicans.  Although viewership dropped for each debate after the first in August, each debate set viewing records.  And Republicans continue to express interest in every debate, and claim they will watch.  In this poll, half of Republicans say they are very interested in tonight’s debate.  Just 19% express little or no interest in watching.

This debate is deigned to focus on economic and business issues: among Republicans, 21% say the economy is their most important issue.  Terrorism, named by 15%, is in second place for Republicans, followed closely by Social Security.  Immigration and health care are each named by 8% of Republicans.   When it comes to immigration, Republicans have no problem choosing a candidate who would best handle that issue: 49% name Trump.  Marco Rubio is the only other candidate who achieves double digits.  Jeb Bush, who has taken an opposing view to Trump on immigration, is chosen by just 5%.

See the Economist/YouGov results

Economist/YouGov poll archives can be found here.

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