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New Iowa poll shows majority believe Marco Rubio won last Thursday’s GOP debate

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Donald Trump maintains a modest lead in Iowa in a new Suffolk University poll, but the big winners from last Thursday’s night GOP presidential debate are Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Florina.

Trump takes 16.6 percent support, with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker next at 12 percent. Rubio is third at 9.6 percent, his best showing in the Hawkeye state in some time. Ben Carson follows closely at 9.4 percent. Ted Cruz is fifth at 7.6 percent, and Fiorina sixth at 7.4 percent. Jeb Bush is next at 4.6 percent.

When asked who won last week’s prime-time debate, however, Rubio topped the list with 23 percent support, with Dr. Ben Carson next at 22 percent support. Ted Cruz was at 11 percent and Trump was only at 10 percent. Jeb Bush received only 2 percent of Iowans who believed he had the best night on Thursday.

When asked who was most impressive during the late afternoon debate that featured the seven lower-ranking candidates, 82 percent said they thought Florina was the winner. Nobody else received more than four percent support.  When asked if she should be allowed to participate in the next debate against the top candidates (regardless, apparently of her poll numbers), an overwhelming 93 percent said she should be invited.

Meanwhile, 55 percent of Iowa voters said they were less impressed with Trump after the debate. A majority (54-41 percent) also disagreed with the notion that the questions asked of Trump by the Fox News anchors were unfair.

The poll asked 500 Iowa voters, and has a margin of error of 4.4 percent.

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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