Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Early Poll of Pa.'s Gop Voters Putstrump, Carson at Forefront

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Early Poll of Pa.'s Gop Voters Putstrump, Carson at Forefront

Article excerpt

According to a new poll of Republican voters, if Pennsylvania's primary were held today, outsiders Donald Trump and Ben Carson would be at the top of the heap. But pollsters say that by the time the primary is actually held next April, a candidate like Florida Sen. Marco Rubio might well break out of the pack.

Released Monday, the poll was conducted by Mercyhurst University's Center for Applied Politics, and surveyed 483 registered Republicans. Dr. Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, and businessman/reality TV star Mr. Trump both garnered support from 18 percent of them. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and businesswoman Carly Fiorina garnered 9 and 8 percent of voters, respectively. Seven other candidates, including Mr. Rubio and Pennsylvania native son Rick Santorum, finished between zero and 4 percent, in a poll with a margin of error of 4.5 percent.

Those results suggest a great deal of disenchantment with the party's leadership, said Joseph M. Morris, director of the Mercyhurst polling center. Fifty-seven percent of Republicans said it was important for their nominee to be an outsider; 60 percent rated the performance of Congress - which is controlled by their own party - as poor.

"The fact that Republicans are so dissatisfied with Washington shouldn't surprise me," Mr. Morris said. "But every time we get numbers like this, I'm surprised."

"Voters are angry in ways they haven't been in some time," said Charlie Gerow, a longtime Republican strategist who backs Ms. Fiorina.

But half of those polled ranked national security as a top concern, rather than Mr. Trump's signature issue of immigration, which was a top-tier issue for just 16 percent of Pennsylvania Republicans. Health care ranked as a top issue for just 17 percent of them, despite longstanding animosity toward President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. …

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