Donald Trump national lead dwindles after a new poll from NBC and The Wall Street Journal has the real estate mogul behind Texas Senator Ted Cruz. The poll was conducted after a combative debate performance this past weekend.
Donald Trump had a double digit lead over his nearest rival, Ted Cruz, but the new poll found support for Trump falling by 7 points since January. Among Republican voters planning to vote in the GOP primary, Trump received 27% of support, two points below Ted Cruz’s 28%.
The decline in support for Donald Trump comes after four other GOP candidates have dropped out of the race, a shrinking of the GOP field that has benefited his rivals. The poll also shows that if the GOP primary came down to a head-to-head choice, both Ted Cruz and Senator Marco Rubio could beat Donald Trump by double-digit margins.
For now, however, there are six candidates in the race. The poll found that Marco Rubio had solidified his third-place position, rising four points in the past month to 17% support.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich jumped from the bottom tier of the field to fourth place, with 11%. He edged out retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who had 10% support in the new poll, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who slid to a low mark of 4%.
It isn’t clear whether slumping support for Donald Trump signals a turning point in the race or a passing phase.
“When you see a number this different, it means you might be right on top of a shift in the campaign,” said Bill McInturff, a GOP pollster who conducted the survey with Democratic pollster Fred Yang. “What you don’t know yet is if the change is going to take place or if it is a momentary pause before the numbers snap back into place.”
Donald Trump still leads in polls in South Carolina, site of the next primary, to be held Saturday.