Following his proposal to temporarily bar Muslims from entering the country, Donald Trump has increased his lead in the Republican primary to its largest margin yet, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
The results are the latest sign that Trump’s outspoken comments on immigration and terrorism continue to find an audience among rank-and-file Republicans in spite of sharp condemnation from Democrats, GOP leaders, some of Trump’s rivals and a chorus of world leaders.
The survey puts Trump’s support at 38 percent among registered Republicans and GOP-leaning independents, six points higher than in October and November. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who also is running an anti-establishment campaign, has surged into second place with 15 percent, effectively doubling his support since last month.
Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Ben Carson are tied for third, with 12 percent each. Carson, who with Trump was at the top of the field earlier this fall, saw his support cut roughly in half over the past month. No other candidate in the new poll registers in double digits. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush stands at 5 percent among registered Republicans.
At this point in the campaign, even with the first votes fewer than 50 days away, national polls are not always the reliable predictors of where presidential nominating contests are heading. At this time four years ago, former congressman Newt Gingrich was tied with eventual nominee Mitt Romney on the Republican side. Eight years ago, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani led the GOP field, while Hillary Clinton held a wide lead over then-Sen. Barack Obama among Democrats. Giuliani and Clinton eventually lost.