The GOP's attempt to kill off Donald Trump before he could permanently color the public's perception of the Republican primary election appears to have failed.
A new NBC/Marist poll has found Trump's momentum has continued to maintain solid leads in Republican primary polls in the two crucial states of Iowa and New Hampshire, with Trump riding in at first place among candidates in New Hampshire and only just trailing Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in Iowa.
In New Hampshire, Trump maintains a 7-point lead over all other contenders, with 21% of likely GOP primary voters polled expressing support for the billionaire from New York City. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush came in at just 14%, followed by Walker at 12% and Ohio Gov. John Kasich bringing up the rear at 7%. According to NBC, "Chris Christie and Ben Carson are tied at 6% in the Granite State, and Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are at 5% each."
In Iowa, Trump has fallen behind Walker 19% to 17%. But both candidates maintain a comfortable lead over Bush at 12%, neurosurgeon Ben Carson at 8%, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul at 7% and 5%, respectively.
According to NBC, the poll was conducted over the same weekend Trump told an audience in Iowa former prisoner of war and Arizona Sen. John McCain was not a war hero because "I like people who weren't captured. OK?" While the remarks seem to have damaged him in New Hampshire, Trump actually increased his lead in Iowa.
There's a silver lining in there for the anti-Trump crowd: At the same time he has grown or maintained solid leads among Republican voters, Trump has been alienating large swathes of the general population. In both Iowa and New Hampshire, NBC notes Trump is disliked by a nearly 2:1 margin, demonstrating his campaign may not have many potential supporters left to peel off from the other Republican competitors.
The results were confirmed by a similar CNN poll conducted nationally.
With the Republican debates on August 6 just a few days away, Trump is virtually guaranteed a place on the stage while many of the other contenders are worried they will fail to qualify for one of the 10 positions available. Entering the debates, Trump will likely still be leading in the polls. With his mounting liabilities tearing apart the Republican Party, it seems likely his fellow primary candidates will be doing their best to steal his spotlight — while they can.