Polls: GOP Debate Reshapes the Field

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — John Kasich is surging in New Hampshire while Donald Trump is taking Scott Walker’s place as the leader in Iowa.

New polls released on Tuesday illustrate how the first Republican presidential debate of the primary season last week is influencing the race.

Walker appears to be losing ground in Iowa, where he’s now in second place at 12% compared to Trump’s 17%, according to a Suffolk University poll conducted Aug. 7-10. That survey shows Florida Sen. Marco Rubio in third place at 10%, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson at 9% and former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz tied for fifth at 7% each.

Kasich, the governor of Ohio whose debate performance was widely praised last week, is in third place in New Hampshire, according to a Boston Herald/Franklin Pierce University poll — a jump from his 7% support in the state in a late-July Monmouth University poll.

Jeb Bush, who will need to make a strong showing in New Hampshire, is barely ahead of Kasich at 13%. Trump is also in the lead in New Hampshire at 18%, though that’s softer than where the billionaire businessman was in late July, when his polling was more than double that of Bush.

Also in New Hampshire, Fiorina rounds out the top 5 at 9%. The former chief executive of Hewlett Packard received positive reviews at the debate, which appears to have an influence on how she’s being perceived by voters. In Iowa, for example, she has a 70% favorability rating compared to 44% in the middle of July.

The Iowa poll showed that Rubio, Carson and Fiorina all got bumps among those who had watched the debate, while Trump’s lead was even higher for those who didn’t see it. Carson’s closing remarks about brain surgery were among the debate’s most memorable moments among those surveyed.

As for Trump, 55% of those who watched the debate said they are now less comfortable with him as a candidate for president, while 23% said they are more comfortable.

“In the absence of a debate, Trump’s lead widens because he swallows up the political oxygen, but when that oxygen is spread out more evenly in a debate, it breathes life into the other candidates, and the race gets closer,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston.