Ahead of tonight’s second GOP primary presidential debate, a new poll conducted by local consulting group MBQF confirms that Republican voters in Arizona overwhelmingly favor Donald Trump and Ben Carson (29.9 percent and 21.3 percent, respectively).
Hundreds of Arizona Republican voters were asked over the weekend: “If the election were held today for the Republican primary for president of the United States, which of the following top 11 candidates . . . would you be most likely to vote for?”
After Trump and Carson, Jeb Bush is the only other candidate in double digits — 10.9 percent — though Carly Fiorina isn’t too far behind him with 9.3 percent.
The next highest total — 8.4 percent — went to the “unsure/undecided category,” which means there’s a large segment of potential voters who could be pulled in favor of one candidate or another based on tonight’s performance. (According to MBQF, 82.4 percent of people polled said they planned to watch the debate.) When compared to national polls, it appears that Arizona voters are different, but not by much. In a recent CBS/New York Times poll, 27 percent of Republican voters said they would elect Trump; 23 percent prefer Carson; Bush, Mike Huckabee, and Marco Rubio each received 6 percent; Ted Cruz came in at 5 percent, and Fiorina captured 4 percent.
Presidential races are often considered an inside game between lifelong politicians, which is why this 2016 season is so unusual. Three out of the four top candidates have no political experience — unless you count Trump’s presidential bid in 2012 — and yet they have captured 62.1 percent of the Republican Arizona vote.
Michael Noble of MBQF said of the poll’s findings: “It appears the conventional wisdom of the [Washington] D.C. insiders has not found a home with any of the top candidates because the electorate ain’t buying the rhetoric. Nobody has flinched as political scare tactics and beltway bravado, lose ground to plain speak.”
A previous MBQF poll from August 18 shows voters have changed their minds a little in the last month, but not much:
Trump: 28 percent
Carson 15.2 percent
Fiorina 10.4 percent
Bush 9 percent.
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“The non-politician triumvirate of Trump-Carson-Fiorina totals 54 [percent],” Noble stated after that poll data was released. “Politicians be warned.”
With the triumvirate only gaining strength, a lot of political pundits are wondering how the three of them — particularly Trump — will hold their own in a debate designed to pit candidates against each other. Trump could shrug off his total lack of foreign policy knowledge in a one-on-one interview with CNN's Hugh Hewitt, but whether the other candidates will let him get off so easily remains to be seen.
Here's the MBQF Poll Data from July, August, and September:
Not sure where to catch the debate tonight? Click here for our list of venues around the Valley where you can watch it for free.