Ter­ror­ism fo­cus gives GOP edge 6 Repub­li­cans top Clin­ton in head-to-head matchup polls

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY S.A. MILLER

Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial fron­trun­ner Don­ald Trump has gained mo­men­tum in polls as he vowed height­ened se­cu­rity mea­sures that tar­get Mus­lims in the wake of the Is­lamic State at­tack on Paris, with the elec­torate’s new fo­cus on ter­ror­ism boost­ing sev­eral Repub­li­can can­di­dates ahead of Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton in the­o­ret­i­cal matchups.

In head-to-head con­tests, six of the Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates topped Mrs. Clin­ton, the front-run­ner and heavy fa­vorite to win the Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion, ac­cord­ing to a Fox News poll.

The the­o­ret­i­cal wins over Mrs. Clin­ton ranged from an 8-point spread for Sen. Marco Ru­bio of Florida to 5 points for Mr. Trump and re­tired neu­ro­sur­geon Ben Car­son. For­mer Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and New Jer­sey Gov. Chris Christie also beat Mrs. Clin­ton in the poll.

The shift in the race — Mrs. Clin­ton had led all the GOP con­tenders but Mr. Ru­bio in most re­cent the­o­ret­i­cal matchups — fol­lowed vot­ers’ in­creased con­cerns about na­tional se­cu­rity fol­low­ing the Paris at­tack. Ter­ror­ism has now sup­planted the econ­omy as the most im­por­tant is­sue named by vot­ers, the poll found.

Ter­ror­ism topped the list of voter con­cerns with 24 per­cent, fol­lowed by the econ­omy at 21 per­cent.

Other sur­veys have given Mrs. Clin­ton the edge on na­tional se­cu­rity. An ABC/Wash­ing­ton Post poll showed vot­ers trust the for­mer sec­re­tary of state to han­dle the ter­ror­ism threat more than any of the Repub­li­can can­di­dates.

Nev­er­the­less, Mr. Trump ap­peared to ben­e­fit most from the new fo­cus on na­tional se­cu­rity. He hard­ened his lead among Repub­li­can pri­mary vot­ers na­tion­ally and in early-vot­ing New Hamp­shire, while re­tak­ing the lead from Mr. Car­son in Iowa, home to the coun­try’s first nom­i­nat­ing con­test.

Mr. Car­son lost ground in both Iowa and New Hamp­shire, ac­cord­ing to a CBS/YouGov poll re­leased Mon­day.

Repub­li­can po­lit­i­cal strate­gist Dou­glas Heye said the fo­cus on na­tional se­cu­rity took part of the blame for Mr. Car­son’s fall­ing poll num­bers.

“Ben Car­son lacks for­eign pol­icy knowl­edge or ori­en­ta­tion, which has been laid bare postParis,” he said.

And Mr. Trump gained in the race de­spite back­lash from the news me­dia and some of his Repub­li­can ri­vals for his harsh com­ments about Mus­lims, in­clud­ing en­dors­ing the idea of a data­base to track Mus­lim Amer­i­cans.

And sev­eral fact-check­ers dis­puted Mr. Trump’s claim over the week­end that thou­sands of Arab res­i­dents in Jer­sey City, New Jer­sey, were “cheer­ing as the World Trade Cen­ter came down” on Sept. 11.

Af­ter the 9/11 at­tacks there were sev­eral news re­ports about po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tions into cel­e­bra­tions in Jer­sey City and nearby Pater­son. But no ev­i­dence was found that the cel­e­bra­tions ac­tu­ally took place, ac­cord­ing to Poli­tiFact, the on­line fact-check­ing project by the Tampa Bay Times.

The bil­lion­aire businessma­n broke into the lead in Iowa with 30 per­cent of the vote among likely Repub­li­can cau­cus­go­ers, and Mr. Car­son tum­bled to third place with 19 per­cent, and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas climbed into sec­ond place with 21 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to the CBS poll.

Mr. Trump and Mr. Car­son were tied at 27 per­cent in the same poll in Oc­to­ber.

The new CBS sur­vey also showed Mr. Trump length­en­ing his lead and Mr. Car­son los­ing ground in New Hamp­shire, which holds the first pri­mary. Mr. Trump re­ceived 32 per­cent, fol­lowed by Mr. Ru­bio at 13 per­cent, and Mr. Car­son and Mr. Cruz were tied in third place at 10 per­cent each.

A month ear­lier Mr. Trump led with 38 per­cent and Mr. Car­son cap­tured sec­ond place with 13 per­cent.

The lat­est polls demon­strate how Mr. Trump’s tough talk has res­onated with vot­ers who have be­come more con­cerned with ter­ror­ism and na­tional se­cu­rity fol­low­ing the Paris at­tack.

On the cam­paign trail in Ne­vada, Mr. Car­son turned up the vol­ume on his calls for in­creased sur­veil­lance of Mus­lims in the U.S.

“I would say we use our in­tel­li­gence and we mon­i­tor any­thing: our mosques, a church, a mu­seum, a su­per­mar­ket,” the re­tired neu­ro­sur­geon said at a cam­paign stop in Pahrump, about 60 miles west of Las Vegas.

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