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Donald Trump leads Ben Carson, 28% to 17%, in New Hampshire, a new Monmouth poll shows

But Carson has gained the most ground in recent weeks in the key early primary state

Washington CNN —  

Ben Carson is gaining steam in New Hampshire, taking a firm grasp of second place in the key state, a new Monmouth University poll shows.

Donald Trump is still leading the Republican field in the Granite State, earning 28% support from likely GOP primary voters to Carson’s 17%. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, at 11%, is the only other candidate in double digits.

Trailing them are Texas Sen. Ted Cruz at 8%, Carly Fiorina and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at 7%, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio at 4% and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at 2%. Six other candidates earned less than 1% backing.

The biggest mover is Carson, who was about even with Kasich in polls earlier this month. He has climbed 12 percentage points since Monmouth’s last New Hampshire poll in late July.

Carson’s rise – fueled by a 73% favorability rating, compared to just 10% who say they view him unfavorably – comes even though New Hampshire lacks the base of evangelical Christians who support Carson in Iowa and South Carolina, two other important early-voting states.

The survey offers some hints at why political rookies like Carson and Trump have traction: 55% of likely Republican voters say the GOP doesn’t represent the concerns of “voters like you.”

Cruz’s support has increased by 5 percentage points since Monmouth’s July survey, while Trump, Kasich and Fiorina each got 4 point bumps.

Support for Bush and Walker, meanwhile, dropped, with each losing 5 points.

“Once again, the three candidates who have never held political office combine for a majority of support in a GOP primary poll,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute in New Jersey.

“This race has turned into the ‘Festivus’ campaign,” he said. “It appears that GOP voters are using the 2016 nomination contest to air their grievances with party leadership.”