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Jeb Bush at 15%, Donald Trump at 13% in new Monmouth University national poll

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The second national poll of the GOP presidential race in three days once again shows Jeb Bush on top, with Donald Trump nipping at his heels. But a deeper look shows Bush is in much better shape moving forward.

The Monmouth University Poll released Monday afternoon shows Bush at 15 percent, Trump at 13 percent, and Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz at 9 percent.

The next group of candidates includes Scott Walker (7 percent) – who is formally announcing his candidacy tonight – Mike Huckabee (7 percent), Marco Rubio (6 percent), Ben Carson (6 percent), and Rand Paul (6 percent). The rest of the field garners no more than 2 percent of the vote, with four candidates — Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum all at that level. Carly Florina and John Kasich are at 1 percent, while Lindsey Graham and George Pataki get half a percentage point.

“The biggest poll bump over the past few weeks has been for Donald Trump. But you’ve got to wonder if his support has already plateaued since many Republican voters don’t view him as a serious candidate,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, N.J. That’s in reference to the fact that 39 percent said they believed that Trump is a candidate who is in the race more for the publicity than to really become president; 32 percent disagreed with the statement, and 21 percent were unsure.

Nobody even comes close to second place in response to that dubious question; Chris Christie is next at 9 percent believing he’s in it more to get publicity than to win office.

The poll shows that Trump’s greatest strength comes from Tea Party supporters. Trump gets a 56-21 percent favorable to unfavorable rating from self-described Tea Party adherents. Before he officially became a candidate last month, Trump was getting a 20-55 percent approval from Tea Party members.

More good news for Bush in this survey. The former Florida governor now gets a solid 50 percent favorable to 30 percent unfavorable rating among his party’s electorate. This marks an improvement over his narrowly positive 40 percent to 35 percent rating in June. Bush also gets net positive ratings from very conservative Republicans (48 percent to 41 percent) and Tea Party supporters (45 percent to 40 percent). In prior Monmouth polls, Bush held net negative ratings with these two important voting blocs.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from July 9 to 12, 2015, with 1,001 adults in the United States. This release is based on a sample of 336 registered voters who identify themselves as Republicans or lean toward the Republican Party. This voter sample has a margin of error of +5.4 percent. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, N.J.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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