Wednesday, December 23, 2015 11:56 pm
With 39 percent of support, outspoken U.S. billionaire Donald Trump is set to end the year with a solid lead among Republican Party (GOP) candidates competing to win the party nomination for the 2016 presidential race, found a new poll on Wednesday.
Trump has a 21-point lead over Senator Ted Cruz, the second competitor who gains 18 percent of support, according to the the CNN/ORC poll conducted after the GOP presidential debate held in Las Vegas last Tuesday.
Cruz added two points to strengthen his second position after a strong performance in the debate.
Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who lost the second place he had held for a long time, and Senator Marco Rubio are now tied for the third with 10 percent of support in the CNN/ORC poll.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie gains 5 percent of support. All other seven GOP candidates garner less than 5 percent of support in the poll.
Trump’s standing is bolstered by Republican supporters’ belief that he can best handle the top issues facing the nation, the poll showed.
On economy, 57 percent of Republican voters think Trump can do the best job, compared to Cruz at 8 percent, Rubio at 7 percent, Carson at 6 percent and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush at 5 percent.
On the issue of illegal immigration, 55 percent of Republican voters believe Trump can handle it best, compared to Cruz at 15 percent, and Rubio at 10 percent.
On the issue of fighting the terror group Islamic State, 47 percent of Republican voters prefer Trump to Cruz at 21 percent and Bush at 7 percent.
The CNN/ORC poll also found that Trump’s supporters are largely non-college-educated voters. Nearly half (46 percent) of Republican voters without a degree support Trump, compared to college graduates at 27 percent.
U.S. President Barack Obama, in rare comments on Trump’s unexpected success in the presidential campaign, said that the New York real estate mogul is “exploiting” the blue-collar fears at a time of economic hardship caused by the economic crisis since 2008.
“Particularly, blue-collar men have had a lot of trouble in this new economy, where they are no longer getting the same bargain that they got when they were going to a factory and able to support their families on a single paycheck,” Obama said in an interview released by the NPR News on Monday.
Contrary to the prediction of many pundits, Trump has steadily retained his lead among GOP candidates since July despite he has repeatedly made controversial, or even provocative, statements on the sensitive issues of race, women, and immigration.