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Marco Rubio rises to 4th place, Jeb Bush back in 5th in USA Today/Suffolk University poll

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Has the Donald Trump phenomenon peaked? Not exactly, according to a USA Today/Suffolk University poll released on Wednesday that shows the NYC real estate magnate maintaining a double-digit lead in the GOP presidential sweepstakes.

Trump is at 23 percent. Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina are tied for second with 13 percent each. Marco Rubio comes in fourth with 9 percent. Jeb Bush is in fifth place with 8 percent, and Ted Cruz is next with 6 percent.

Nobody else in the pack gets more than 2 percent (John Kasich, Mike Huckabee and Rand Paul). Bobby Jindal, Chris Christie and Lindsey Graham all get a paltry 1 percent support.

“It has now come down to the GOP ‘gang of six,’ ” says David Paleologos, director of the Political Research Center at Suffolk University in Boston. That would be Trump, Carson, Fiorina, Rubio, Bush and Cruz. “These six contenders swallow up nearly three-quarters of the Republican vote.”

Like every other poll that shows Trump leading, the remaining portion of voters who don’t support him really, really don’t like him. Among those surveyed, Americans by more than 2-1, 61 percent-27 percent, have an unfavorable opinion of him. In contrast, Ben Carson is viewed favorably by 40 percent, unfavorably by 32 percent. Carly Fiorina has a net favorable rating of 38 percent-32 percent.

And when those surveyed were asked to volunteer one word to describe Trump, the most frequent response was “idiot” or “jerk.” For Fiorina, the most frequent response was “smart.”

One other fun fact: By a 53 percent-39 percent margin, those surveyed say a Muslim couldn’t be elected. However, by 49 percent-40 percent, they also say they would vote for a qualified Muslim themselves.

The poll of 380 likely Republican primary voters, taken Thursday through Monday, has a margin of error of +/- 5 percentage points. The full sample of 1,000 likely voters has an error margin of 3 points.

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

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