Sen. Marco Rubio and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson were the most impressive candidates in last week’s GOP presidential debate, but businessman Donald Trump continues to top the field, Iowa voters said in a poll Tuesday from Suffolk University.
The pollsters said Mr. Trump is benefiting from a large and fractured field, but could tumble if some candidates begin to drop out, saying their supporters in Iowa are unlikely to switch over to the controversial businessman.
“If the Republican field were winnowed down to five or six candidates, Trump’s 17 percent probably wouldn’t be enough to win in Iowa, as polling indicates that his further growth has limitations,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. “The long-shot candidates staying in the race help keep Trump on top — at least for now.”
Among Iowa voters overall, Mr. Trump’s 17 percent topped Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, in second place with 12 percent, and Mr. Rubio of Florida, with 10 percent. Mr. Carson was fourth with 9 percent, and Sen. Ted Cruz and businesswoman Carly Fiorina were tied with 7 percent.
Among those who watched last week’s debate, however, the race was a tie between Mr. Trump and Mr. Walker, both with 14 percent, and with Mr. Rubio, Mr. Carson and Ms. Fiorina behind them.
Mr. Trump has declared he “won” the debate, but the watchers surveyed by Suffolk disagreed, with 55 percent saying they are less comfortable with him as a candidate now. Just 23 percent said they were more comfortable.
The poll included 500 likely Iowa caucus-goers and was taken Aug. 7-10.
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