Oct. 05–Political outsiders Donald Trump and Ben Carson are currently the top pick of Pennsylvania Republican voters, according to new polling from the Mercyhurst University’s Center for Applied Politics.
In a survey of 483 registered Republicans statewide, the Erie-based university’s poll found that both Mr. Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, and businessman-cum-reality-star Mr. Trump were both top picks among 18 percent of Republican voters. Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor and brother of a former president, and businesswoman Carly Fiorina posted support from 9 and 8 percent of Republicans, respectively.
The rest of the field — including Pennsylvania native son Rick Santorum — finished between zero and 4 percent, in a poll that had a margin of error of 4.5 percent.
Fully one Republican voter in 6 remains undecided, with the Pennsylvania primary still a half-year away.
Not surprisingly, given that three of the poll’s top four finishers have never held elective office, 57 percent of those polled said it was important for the nominee to be an “outsider.” That likely stems from discontent not just with President Barack Obama — a Democratic of whom 82 percent of surveyed Republicans disapprove — but also of the Republican-led Congress: 60 percent of voters rated Congress’ performance as poor.
Disdain for current office holders may be reflected in another poll finding: While 71 percent of Republicans are enthusiastic about the field in general, three candidates are viewed favorably by less than half of those surveyed … and all three are currently in office. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul are both US Senators, and John Kasich — who is viewed favorably by just 27 percent of voters — is currently the governor of Ohio. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the other elected official in the race, is viewed favorably by 54 percent of voters, the same as Mr. Santorum
Still, the survey cautioned that “the possibility that a skilled political insider may ultimately prevail cannot be dismissed.” While GOP voters may think it’s important for the part to field an outsider, 45 percent said a candidate’s outsider status would have no impact on their decision.
Among Republicans, wariness of political insiders has not been limited to Pennsylvanians: Mr. Trump and Mr. Carson have been atop national polls as well, with Ms. Fiorina also doing well. On the other hand, while Mr. Trump rose to prominence in part by taking a strong anti-immigrant stand, the issue appears to have little resonance for Pennsylvania Republicans: Only 16 percent say immigration should be among the government’s top two priorities, while 50 percent say terrorism and national security are a top-tier concern.
Chris Potter: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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