ST. LEO, Fla. – Businessman Donald Trump holds steady as the leading presidential candidate among likely Republican voters while former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continues to outrun her lingering challengers in the party with the nation's likely Democratic voters according to the Saint Leo University Polling Institute.
When Republican likely voters were asked to name the candidate they would support if the Republican primary were held today, 29.1 percent responded with Trump, up from 22.7 percent in October. Dr. Ben Carson now sits at 13.6 percent, down from 22.2 percent. U.S. Senator Marco Rubio sits largely unchanged at 11.4 percent compared to 11.1 percent. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush rose slightly to 10.5 percent from 8.4 percent.
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz also climbed to 9.1 percent from 4 percent in October, while former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina slid to 1.4 percent from 5.8 percent in October.
"Donald Trump continues to dominate the daily news cycles," said Frank Orlando, instructor of political science at Saint Leo University. "He's a master of creating and controlling content – his tweets become news. He's a media personality who captures the attention of those who both support his beliefs and vehemently disagree with him."
"Carson, however followed the conventional pattern of an outsider candidate. After his background was scrutinized, he fell out of favor, and now has started his decline," said Orlando.
Democratic likely voters in the survey noted if the primary were held today supported Hillary Clinton at 58.9 percent up slightly from 54.8 in October, followed by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders at 23.7 percent who climbed from 12 percent in October.
The jumps from the October poll question can be attributed to Vice President Joe Biden, who garnered 15.8 percent, but has since announced he won't be running.
"Hillary Clinton has consolidated her support and continues to dominate her party," said Orlando. Despite Bernie Sanders' uptick he continues to significantly trail Clinton. "There is nothing in the numbers to indicate that Sanders will make a big charge."