A solid performance in Wednesday night’s GOP debate has boosted Carly Fiorina into second place in the latest national poll, with 15 percent of the vote, while frontrunner Donald Trump maintains strong, if diminished, support with a 24 percent share of those polled.
The CNN/ORC poll of Republican registered voters shows Sen. Marco Rubio, whose debate performance also received good marks, on the rise, while his Florida rival Jeb Bush remains mired in the middle of the pack.
Fiorino’s emergence, however, is hardly indicative of where she will be by the time the voting starts – or even where she will be next month.
If 2012 is any guide, polls in the Republican primary could shift wildly even after the primaries begin, with many candidates in a large pack getting their turn to bask in the pollster-spawned limelight. And there is evidence that the heavy press attention to Fiorino’s debate performance may have goosed her standing.
The poll, conducted entirely after the debate, delivers the campaign of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker into crisis status, with the formerly highly touted candidate receiving support of less than half a percentage point.
The survey has Trump declining from the 32 percent he received in a similar poll taken earlier this month. Fiorina at 15 percent is just ahead of Ben Carson, whose 14 percent is down from 19 percent in the previous poll.
Bush in inhabits fifth place with a 9 percent share, followed by Sen. Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee who each garnered six percent. They are followed by Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul at 4 percent, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at 3 percent, Ohio Gov. John Kasich at 2 percent and Rick Santorum at 1 percent.
Fifty one percent agreed that Fiorina won the debate, with only 11 percent saying Trump did. Trump was third, in fact, behind Rubio, who was the choice of 14 percent.
However, Fiorina’s numbers are nearly 20 points higher and Trump’s ten points worse than those of a snap poll taken directly after the debate, suggesting press accounts of Fiorina’s victory may have influenced voters’ thinking.
Participation in the preliminary debate did nothing for Rick Santorum, Jim Gilmore, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, and George Pataki, each of whom are at one percent or less.
The poll suggests Trump, in order to maintain his momentum, may need to start rolling out more specifics about what he will do as president and begin sounding more knowledgeable about policy details. Fiorina during the debate showed a command of subject matter, rattling off names and details as part of what was a clear strategy to showcase her knowledge and contrast it with Trump’s.
Rubio’s rise signals that the more moderate, establishment wing of the Party may begin considering him – or Fiorina – as an alternative if Bush doesn’t get his act together very soon.
And with a decline of five points, Carson may need to start upping the amperage behind his professorial, nice-guy style.
This story first appeared in the other publication I edit, PoliZette.