Donald Trump’s lead among Republicans dropped six points in the days leading up to Monday’s Iowa caucuses, the latest IBD/TIPP Poll shows.
Support for Trump fell to 31% among registered Republicans and Republican leaners, down from 34% in the prior IBD/TIPP Poll. Meanwhile, Ted Cruz saw his support climb three points to 21%, the highest number that Cruz has achieved in five months of polling.
This comes after Trump has spent several days launching sharp attacks at Cruz, challenging his eligibility to serve as president, and attacking his character.
While Trump’s attacks didn’t move the needle among conservatives, his support among moderates fell from 39% to 24%, while Cruz’s jumped from 5% to 18%.
The rest of the GOP field is little changed from last month. Sen. Marco Rubio remains in third at 10%, Ben Carson in fourth at 9%, ex-Gov. Jeb Bush in fifth at 5% — though all three rose 1 point from the prior IBD/TIPP Poll. Sen. Rand Paul gets 4%, Carly Fiorina and Gov. John Kasich are at 2% each, with the rest of the field at 1%.
The latest Poll does suggest that Cruz’s potential pool of supporters has narrowed, while Rubio’s have increased. In early January, 24% of Republicans and leaners said Cruz was their second choice, followed by 14% for Rubio and 9% for Trump. Now, 19% say Rubio is their next option vs. 17% for Cruz and 13% for Trump.
The national IBD/TIPP Poll comes just days before the Iowa caucuses, which will be followed in quick succession by the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries. The Real Clear Politics average has Trump ahead of Cruz 33.2% to 26.7% in Iowa; 31.7% to 12.6% in New Hampshire, and 36% to 19.7% in South Carolina.
Clinton Leads, But Scandals Weigh
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton regained ground this month, with 50% of Democrats and Democratic leaners saying they support her, up from 43% earlier this month. Bernie Sanders remains essentially unchanged at 38%.
The poll shows, however, that the collective weight of various scandals could pose a serious problem for Clinton within her own party.
The IBD/TIPP Poll asked registered Democrats and those who lean toward the Democratic party whether Clinton’s use of a private email account while secretary of State, her handing of the Benghazi attack, her husband’s past indiscretions, and problems surrounding the Clinton Foundation would have a negative impact on their decision to vote for her.
Individually, only around a third said each one of these — except for Bill’s past — would negatively affect their vote.
But, combined, a net 60% of Democrats and leaners said at least one of them would.
“My conclusion is that each one of these scandals in itself may not have impact, but collectively they do,” said Raghavan Mayur, president of TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence, which conducts the IBD/TIPP Poll. “That’s why you see polls showing that only 36% say Hillary Clinton is honest and trustworthy.”
When asked whom they would support if Clinton dropped out of the race, 50% said Sanders, 26% picked Vice President Joe Biden, 8% picked former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (who isn’t a Democrat but is reportedly mulling a third-party run), and 3% said California Gov. Jerry Brown. Just 4% said they’d pick the only other Democrat actually in the race, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.
Other IBD/TIPP Poll Findings:
• 59% say the country is headed in the wrong direction, compared with 60% earlier this month.
• President Obama’s job approval rating climbed to 49% from 43% in early January.
• 40% think the economy is currently in a recession, up from 38% earlier this month.
• The share of job-sensitive households (those with someone looking for a job or concerned about losing a job), increased to 33% from early January’s 28%.
• 47% say the economy is improving, compared with 46% earlier this month.
The IBD/TIPP nationwide poll was conducted from Jan. 22 through Jan. 27. It included 914 adults, and the margin of error is +/- 3.3 percentage points. The poll was taken by live interviewers using both land and cell phones.
The unweighted sample size for Registered Republicans/Lean Republican was 395 — resulting in a margin of error of +/- 5 percentage points . For Registered Democrats/Lean Democratic, the sample size was 349, for a margin of error of +/- 5.4 percentage points.
The IBD/TIPP Poll has a proven track record for accuracy, based on its performance in the past three presidential elections. In a comparison of the final results of various pollsters for the 2004 and 2008 elections, the IBD/TIPP was the most accurate. And the New York Times concluded that IBD/TIPP was the most accurate among 23 polls over the three weeks leading up to the 2012 election.
For a complete explanation of the IBD/TIPP Poll’s methodology and the top-line results for the poll, click here.