Ben Carson loses ground to Rubio and Cruz

December 10, 2015, 7:05 PM UTC

Carson has lost ground to Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz as Donald Trump continues to lead the GOP field

In the last few weeks, while businessman Donald Trump has held on to his support in GOP presidential polls (including this one), there have been changes among those chasing him.  Neurosurgeon Ben Carson has lost support, and is now in single digits when registered voters who think of themselves as Republicans are asked whom they support.  In the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, Carson has been surpassed in the horserace by not just one, but two elected Republicans: Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Texas Senator Ted Cruz.

Support for Carson has dropped 10 points in the last month. 

This poll was conducted before the controversy over Trump’s statement about not letting Muslims enter the United States.  The poll indicates that at least until that point in time, Trump’s support remained stable.

The good news for Cruz and Rubio (and the bad news for Carson) may reflect the impact of the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino.  Carson’s drop in support began after the Paris shootings.  Now Rubio has become the Republicans’ best-liked candidate: 71% of Republicans now have a favorable view of Rubio, up 6 points in the last two weeks.  Trump, Carson and Cruz are seen favorably by fewer, though more than 60% of Republicans like each of them. For both Trump and Carson, this week represents a drop in favorability from late November. 

And there are other indications that Rubio – and Cruz – are becoming even more popular than Trump, especially if the choices are more limited than they are currently.  Asked to choose in head to head matchups between Cruz and Trump, and Rubio and Trump, both Senators win this week.  That was not the case two weeks ago. 

Both Senators hold clear leads when matched against Carson.  Two weeks ago, both those matchups were tied, with Cruz and Rubio neck and neck with Carson. 

Matched against each other, Cruz leads Rubio among Republicans 54% to 46%.  Rubio fares better when non-Republicans are included.  Rubio leads Cruz among all registered voters by the same margin Cruz leads him by among Republicans.

A belief that Rubio is more popular than Cruz outside the party may be helping perceptions of Rubio’s electability.  When asked whether the two Senators could win a general election, both Republicans and non-Republicans are more likely to view Rubio as a possible winner than to say Cruz could win.  Half the public overall and 72% of Republicans think Rubio could win a general election, while fewer say that about Cruz.

In this poll, however, Trump is even more likely than Rubio to be viewed as a possible winner.  As for Carson, perception of his electoral viability among Republicans has dropped in the last two weeks.  In late November, 74% of Republicans thought Carson could win a general election.  Now, 61% do, a drop of 13 points.  

See the Economist/YouGov results

Economist/YouGov poll archives can be found here.