Ben Carson has taken a narrow lead nationally in the Republican presidential campaign, dislodging Donald Trump from the top spot for the first time in months, according to a New York Times/CBS News survey released on Tuesday.
Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, is the choice of 26 percent of Republican primary voters, the poll found, while Trump now wins support from 22 percent, although the difference lies within the margin of sampling error.
The survey is the first time that Trump has not led all candidates since The Times and CBS News began measuring presidential preferences at the end of July.
No other candidate comes close to Carson and Trump. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida received 8 percent while former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida and Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive, are each the choice of 7 percent of Republican primary voters.
Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas and Gov. John R. Kasich of Ohio each received support from 4 percent of those surveyed.
The poll represents a single waypoint in a long nominating process that has already seen considerable volatility. The new survey shows that the vast majority of Republicans have not firmly made up their minds: Seven in 10 of those who expressed support for a candidate said it was too early to say for sure who they would support. Just 28 percent indicated that their minds were made up.
More than half of the Republican primary voters surveyed said they were now paying “a lot” of attention to the campaign, essentially unchanged from a CBS News survey in early October.
Over the same period, Carson has gained five percentage points, while Trump has fallen by five percentage points.
The new poll found that Trump’s supporters are firmer in their support than Carson’s. A majority of Trump supporters, 55 percent, said their minds were made up. But 80 percent of Carson backers said it was too early to say for sure that they would eventually support him.