Donald Trump has shot to the top of the Republican field in a new poll released Friday, buoyed in part by a wave of GOP voters with questions about President Obama’s birth certificate. Some 26 percent of Republican primary voters nationwide said they planned to vote for Trump — who has not yet publicly declared his candidacy — compared to 17 percent for second-place finisher Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney garnered 15 percent support and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich was fourth with 11 percent, according to the survey from Democratic-aligned firm Public Policy Polling (PPP).
The PPP poll followed a CNN survey earlier in the week which showed Trump tied for the lead with Huckabee with 19 percent support. Thursday’s PPP poll revealed that the 64-year old Trump’s meteoric rise has been fueled by voters skeptical that Obama was truly born in Hawaii — speculation that has been avoided by most mainstream Republican politicians.
The most ardent of the so-called “birthers” are nearly three times more likely to be in favor of Trump than any other candidate, the poll showed. An earlier PPP poll of Republican primary voters revealed that over half did not believe the president was born in the country. “It’s a very important issue,” Trump has said of demanding that Obama show his birth certificate, “I’m not ashamed of having raised that issue.”
In an interview Thursday, Obama suggested it could be perilous in 2012 if Republicans nominate a candidate who seriously attempts to question his lineage. “Most people feel pretty confident the President was born where he says he was, in Hawaii. He doesn’t have horns,” Obama told ABC News. Obama leads all the Republican candidates, Trump included, in the general election, according to the PPP poll.