Jeb Bush and Donald Trump continue to lead the GOP primary in a national CNN/ORC poll
Hillary Clinton leads the Democrats
Clinton also leads all GOP candidates in head-to-head general election match-ups
With nearly all of the expected 2016 presidential candidates formally in the race, a new CNN/ORC national poll finds two recent entrants to the GOP field on the rise, while Hillary Clinton maintains her position atop the Democratic field, though holding a slightly slimmer lead.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and businessman Donald Trump top the list of GOP presidential contenders following their back-to-back campaign launches in mid-June, and are the only two Republican candidates holding double-digit support among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents.
For his part, Trump specifically responded to the poll results Wednesday afternoon saying the numbers are “representative of the response we are receiving from all over the country.”
“I am committed to addressing the issues our country is facing and am confident my business mindset and common sense solutions are resonating with the American people,” Trump said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. “Politicians are all talk and no action and the American public is ready for a leader with a proven track record of success.”
READ: The complete CNN/ORC poll here
Clinton, though, continues to lead all GOP candidates in head-to-head general election match-ups.
Bush stands at 19%, up from 13% in May – and his best showing in CNN/ORC polling since December. Trump follows at 12%, up from 3% before his announcement. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (8%), neurosurgeon Ben Carson (7%) and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (7%) round out the top five.
Notably absent from this top five – though statistically speaking not far behind – are Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (6%, down from 14% in May) and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (6%, down slightly from 10%). Both had been top five candidates in each of the last two CNN/ORC polls, and Walker had been in the top five since February.
The poll, conducted just before New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie formally launched his campaign with a rally in Livingston, New Jersey, on Tuesday, also finds that Christie begins his push for the presidency with just 3% support.
The findings suggest Bush is making progress toward being seen as the frontrunner in a field that has long lacked a clear leader. He holds a significant lead over the second-place candidate Trump, is seen as the candidate who could best handle illegal immigration and social issues, and runs about even with Trump and well ahead of the other candidates when Republicans are asked which candidate can best handle the economy.
Potential 2016 presidential candidates
But there are sticking points for Bush. He fares slightly worse across all three issues tested when only registered voters are considered. Registered voters tend to be more conservative and older than Republicans as a whole, and are more apt to actually vote when the primaries come around.
Looking at how each candidate fares among those subgroups, conservatives split their support between Bush and Trump, 12% back each. Likewise, among voters age 50 or older, 14% support Bush and 14% back Trump. By contrast, among Republicans under age 50, Bush is the only candidate in double-digits with 23%, Trump has just 9% support. And moderate or liberal Republicans back Bush over Trump 27% to 10%.
Trump’s competitiveness among those older and more conservative Republicans also helps explain Walker’s and Rubio’s declines. In April, 16% of Republicans age 50 or older backed Rubio, 14% Walker. Now, Rubio has just 6% among this group and Walker has 7%. Trump grew from 2% in May to 14% now.
Among conservatives in May, Rubio led the field with 15%, Walker was just behind at 14%. Bush had 11%, about the same as in the current poll. Now, Walker has fallen to 8%, and Rubio is down five points to 10%. And Trump has grown from 2% to 12%. Rubio also lost ground among moderate or liberal Republicans, just 1% back Rubio in the new poll, down from 11%.
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton continues to hold all the cards. Nationally, she leads all other candidates by more than 40 points, with 57% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents behind her, 16% backing Vice President Joe Biden, 14% Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, 2% Jim Webb and 1% or less for former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee.
The poll holds better news for Biden than it does for Sanders, who has made gains against Clinton in recent polling in Iowa and New Hampshire. But Biden actually tops the list as national Democrats’ second-choice candidate, 35% say he’s their second pick, compared with 14% who say Sanders is.