The crowded run for the Republican presidential nomination has taken another wild turn as real estate mogul Donald Trump leads the field in a new poll. His opponent, Dr. Ben Carson, has sided with him on certain issues in the past.
According to Susan Page and Erin Raftery of USA Today, a nationwide survey conducted by USA Today/Suffolk University Poll found Trump leading at 17 percent, while former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is second at 14 percent. Although his lead is within the margin of error, his controversial comments on both immigration and his fellow Republicans have struck a nerve with some voters.
"He's got some backbone," 59-year-old Steve Fusaro of California said. "We need a businessman."
However, 19-year-old audio engineer Buxton McGuckin of South Carolina expressed alarm at the potential blowback of Trump's words. He told USA Today that he supported Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.
"I know he's a conservative and Republican but I mean ... the (stuff) that comes out of his mouth," McGuckin said of Trump.
According to USA Today, the survey of 1,000 adults had a margin error of plus or minus 3 percentage points; data was gathered by landline and cell phone Thursday through Sunday. The survey revealed that "Trump's strengths and his weaknesses are on display."
"While he leads the GOP field, he fares the worst of seven hopefuls in hypothetical head-to-heads against former secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the leading Democratic nominee," Page and Raftery wrote. "Bush, the strongest candidate against Clinton, lags by four points nationwide, 46 percent-42 percent. Trump trails by 17 points, 51 percent-34 percent."
USA Today also looked at the response to Trump's comments about illegal immigration.
"Nearly half of all those surveyed, 48 percent, say Trump's comments about illegal immigrants, including characterizing Mexicans as rapists and drug dealers, matter a lot to their vote," Page and Raftery wrote. "Just 15 percent say the comments make them more likely to support him; 48 percent say they make them less likely."
USA Today combined the first and second choices of Republicans, finding that Bush was in the lead at 14 percent and Trump at 13 percent. It could indicate "how things might sort out when the field eventually gets smaller."
"We've seen Donald Trump make it to the top, but the question is can he stay on top," said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center. "In 2012, Michelle Bachmann and Herman Cain led the GOP primary field briefly but only to fade."
Although USA Today pointed out that Trump was the best-known of the Republican contenders, he also garnered negative ratings.
"In the poll, 61 percent have an unfavorable impression of him and 23 percent a favorable one, a net-negative rating of 38 points," Page and Raftery wrote of Trump.
According to Ken Meyer of Mediaite, Carson was asked by Neil Cavuto of Fox News on Friday if he would ever consider a Carson/Trump 2016 campaign if he received the Republican nomination.
"I have had a chance to associate with [Trump] now that I have moved down to Florida," Carson said. "He's a very smart guy, and he is a fun guy. So, I will leave it at that."
Carson added that "all things are possible" in the presidential race to the White House.
According to Meyer, Carson thought Trump should stick to his controversial statements. He contended that political correctness is killing important discussions in the United States.
"There's no question that we are in the process in this country of giving away all of our values and principles for the sake of political correctness," Carson said. "We need to discuss these things openly. I like people who are willing to say what they believe."