Republican voters’ support for real estate mogul Donald Trump continues to grow, according to a new national poll out Friday.
Trump led the pack of 16 major-name Republican candidates with 18 percent of likely Republican primary voters saying they would vote for the blustery billionaire and former reality TV star, up from 11% who supported him in a June survey. The Fox News poll, conducted earlier this week, also saw Wisconsin Gov. Scot Walker jump to second place in the field, following his formal announcement this past Monday, with support from 15 percent of likely voters.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush maintained a steady following, holding 14 percent of support from voters. While the rest of the candidates polled in the single-digits, 9 percent of voters said they were still undecided and 4 percent chose none of the above.
Aside from simple jockeying, polling has a more immediate function in this contest: it will decide which 10 candidates make it on stage for the first Republican debate and which seven are shuffled off to a second-tier debate.
Fox News, which will host the first Republican debate next month in Cleveland, has said it will pick the top 10 candidates based on an average of the five most recent national polls. But it has not said precisely which polls will be used.
Trump currently ranks among those who would most likely appear onstage if the debate were held today, and the poll finds he’s the candidate Republicans are most likely to want to see on the stage. When asked which of the GOP candidates they are most interested in learning about during the debates, 18% chose trump, 12% Walker, 11% Bush and 8% Marco Rubio.
Among the field, Trump has been the most willing to blast fellow Republicans, most vociferously Bush – jabbing repeatedly, with assertions like Bush “couldn’t negotiate his way out of a paper bag.”
In the Democratic primary, the Fox poll found Hillary Clinton continues to hold a comfortable lead over liberal insurgent Bernie Sanders. Among likely voters in the Democratic primary, 59 percent picked Clinton and 19 percent backed Sanders. Other Democratic contenders, including former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee and former Sen. Jim Webb, are still struggling to find any traction in the field.
The poll came from cell phone and landline telephone interviews with 389 likely Republican voters July 13-15. On the Democratic side, Fox News spoke to 382 likely Democratic primary voters.