Donald Trump and Ben Carson are virtually tied in the national Republican presidential race, while Carly Fiorina is now tied for third place with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.
In the GOP race, Trump is the first choice of 21 percent of Republican primary voters — followed by Carson at 20 percent and Rubio and Fiorina tied at 11 percent each.
But, and this is where it gets interesting, when adding both first and second choices, Carson tops the current GOP field at 35 percent - followed by Trump at 31 percent. Fiorina is at 28 percent, Rubio at 26 percent and Bush at 19 percent.
How other candidates fared:
- Former Florida Jeb Bush: 7 percent
- Ohio Gov. John Kasich: 6 percent
- Texas Sen. Ted Cruz: 5 percent
- Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul: 3 percent
- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie: 3 percent
- Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee: 2 percent
- The rest of the field received 1 percent or less.
In July, Trump was in first place at 19 percent in the same poll. Scott Walker, who has since dropped out, was second at 15 percent. Bush was third at 14 percent and Carson fourth just barely registering in double digits at 10 percent. Rubio was just at 5 percent, and Fiorina didn't register at all in the poll.
NBC reported that the poll was conducted Sept. 20-24 — so mostly after Walker suspended his campaign on Sept. 21. Only one GOP primary voter (out of 59 interviews) had selected Walker before he was removed from the survey.
Both Fiorina and Rubio were praised for the performance in the second GOP debate earlier this month, and Carson's support shot up after he said a week ago that he wouldn't support a Muslim candidate for president.
Trump, meanwhile, was booed at Saturday's Values Voter Summit in Washington when he referred to Rubio as a "clown." The negative response was a rarity for the popular front-runner, though the audience was not made up entirely of Trump supporters as his own campaign events are.
Bush's 7 percent in the new poll is half his 14 percent support in the July poll, and less than a third of his 22 percent in June. He was an early front-runner before Trump got into the race, but has been battling his image as an establishment insider with a family name to overcome in a year when outsiders so far have been favored.
Bush "boasts the biggest war chest in the field, but his continued slippage has donors nervous at a time when candidates with little or no experience in politics have stolen the spotlight," the Journal reported.
The Journal also points out that Rubio, meanwhile, has bounced back from a poor performance in the July poll.
"The Florida senator turned in what many judged a solid debate performance and continues to benefit from a positive image among Republicans across the ideological spectrum," the Journal writes.
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