Donald Trump Leads in Expectations, Shows Strength on Attributes (POLL)

Donald Trump leads the Republican presidential field in the latest ABC News

ByABC News
October 21, 2015, 7:00 AM

— -- Donald Trump leads the Republican presidential field in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, not only in vote preferences but in expectations as well -– a remarkable feat for the non-politician who’s surprised the GOP establishment with his staying power as well as his support.

Trump has leveled off with backing from 32 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who are registered to vote, easily enough to retain his frontrunner status. Fellow outsider Ben Carson follows with 22 percent, also flat this month after sharp summertime gains.

Notably, even more leaned Republicans -- 42 percent -- say they expect Trump to win the GOP nomination for president. And given a list of six potential nominees, 43 percent pick Trump as having the best chance to win the general election just more than a year from now.

See PDF with full results here.

Trump also fares well on many key attributes. Nearly half of leaned Republicans -- 47 percent -- view him as the strongest leader; 39 percent think he'd be best able to handle immigration; 32 percent feel he is closest to them on the issues; and 29 percent say he “best understands the problems of people like you.” In each case he leads the other top-five contenders for the nomination, Carson, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz and Carly Fiorina.

Trump has weaknesses nonetheless. More view Carson as the most honest and trustworthy (33 percent vs. 21 percent for Trump), and Trump trails Bush in having the best experience (31 vs. 23 percent). While 19 percent say Trump has the best personality and temperament to serve effectively as president, that compares with a similar 24 percent for Carson.

Trump and Bush are particularly weak in another measure in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates. Roughly equal numbers of leaned Republicans say the more they hear about Trump the less they like him, compared with liking him more, 45 vs. 47 percent. Albeit not a statistically significant result, Bush goes numerically underwater in this gauge, 47-41 percent.

Compare that to Carson: Sixty-four percent say as they hear more about him they like him more, vs. just 18 percent who like him less, a vast 46-point net positive. Scores for Rubio, Fiorina and Cruz also are net positive on this measure by 23, 17 and 8 points, respectively.


For all the campaigning under way, the overall race for the GOP nomination looks to be on pause, with essentially no change in candidate support since last month. That reflects a loss of momentum for Trump and Carson alike. Still, among their opponents only Rubio cracks the double digits, and just barely, with 10 percent.

In addition to his appeal to anti-immigration Republicans, Trump’s candidacy is very much bolstered by desire in the party for a political outsider. Republicans and Republican-leaning independents by 57-39 percent say they’re looking for someone from outside the political establishment rather than someone with political experience – drastically different from the 21-76 percent division on this issue among leaned Democrats. And Trump wins 41 percent support from registered leaned Republicans looking for an outsider, vs. 18 percent from those who prefer political experience.