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Elon Poll: Carson opens big lead over Trump in NC

Republican presidential candidates Ben Carson, left, and Donald Trump talk before the start of the CNN Republican presidential debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015, in Simi Valley, Calif.
Republican presidential candidates Ben Carson, left, and Donald Trump talk before the start of the CNN Republican presidential debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015, in Simi Valley, Calif. AP

Presidential candidate Ben Carson has jumped to a significant lead over Donald Trump in North Carolina, according to an Elon University Poll released Thursday.

In the latest poll of likely Republican voters, 31 percent picked Carson, a neurosurgeon who’s surged recently in polls nationwide. About 19 percent favored Trump, who’d polled as the top North Carolina candidate in the previous Elon Poll in September.

“It appears that a strong performance in the last GOP debate has pushed Ben Carson to the front of the crowded GOP pack of presidential candidates, at least among Republicans in North Carolina,” poll director Kenneth Fernandez said in a news release. “Nearly a third of registered Republican voters here said they plan on voting for Carson, more than 10 points ahead of Donald Trump, his closest primary competitor.”

Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz tied for third place in the new poll, both of whom had support from about 10 percent of Republicans polled.

Jeb Bush had just 5 percent support, putting him a few points ahead of Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee and Rand Paul.

The Elon poll also asked likely voters about hypothetical November election match-ups. Those pairings found that Hillary Clinton polled better than Trump, Bush and Fiorina, but could lose against Carson or Rubio.

Among likely Democratic voters, Clinton has 57 percent support to Bernie Sanders’ 24 percent.

And in the North Carolina governor’s race, Attorney General Roy Cooper polled at 45 percent to Gov. Pat McCrory’s 40 percent – the first time an Elon poll has found Cooper leading McCrory.

Full poll results are available here.

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