Donald Trump leads the Republican presidential field while Hillary Clinton's support among Democrats is fading in the face of a potential challenge from Vice President Joe Biden, a new Virginia poll shows.
Among Republicans, Trump leads author and retired Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon Ben Carson 23 to 17 percent, according to new polling data from Christopher Newport University's Wason Center for Public Policy. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio takes third place with 14 percent and former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina is close behind with 13 percent.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush polls 9 percent in the survey of 1,067 registered Virginia voters conducted between Sept. 29 and Oct. 8, 2015. The margin of error is +/- 3.2 percentage points.
The new results show how Trump's entry into the race and Clinton's ongoing scandals have changed the math in both major party races.
An earlier Wason Center poll from April 27
before Trump declared his candidacy
— had Bush leading with 17 percent, Rubio in second with 16 percent and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in third with 10 percent. Carson in April took sixth place at 7 percent, while Fiorina managed just 1 percent.
On the Democratic side, former secretary of state, U.S. senator and first lady Clinton's margin over the rest of the Democratic field has fallen by half since the Wason Center's April poll.
Clinton leads Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders 40 to 23 percent and holds the same 40-to-23 lead over Biden, who is considering his candidacy but has made no formal bid to get into the race.
In April, Clinton had a commanding 80 percent support among Virginia Democrats, according to the center. Biden had 5 percent, and Sanders just 2 percent.
Wason Center director Quentin Kidd said Clinton's declining support shows Virginia Democrats aren't sold on her candidacy, which has been rocked by an FBI investigation into her use of a nondescript private email address, on a pseudonymously registered server, for official business during her tenure at the State Department.
“While she continues to lead, the fact that Sanders’ campaign and Biden’s potential candidacy have cut her lead in half shows that they are looking seriously at alternatives,” Kidd said.
Kidd told AMI Newswire that outsiders and perceived outsiders are surging because the party bases are restless and eager for alternatives to the more mainstream candidates.
"What is sustaining them (especially Trump and Carson) is the level of conviction of the restless base," Kidd said. "Remember, there was a small but very solid block of representatives and senators who were willing to shut the government down, and who would have been willing to keep it shut down even to the point of causing a massive default until they got what they wanted."
"Those elected officials were standing (even if precariously) on the shoulders of some very determined voters,"
Kidd added. "It is those voters who are telling the establishment-types to go to hell ... and sticking with Trump and Carson."
Kidd said voters could move to more establishment candidates as the campaigns draw closer to the start of voting in Iowa and New Hampshire.
"Some of those Trump and Carson voters believe in their gut that the time will come when Trump and Carson will fade and someone from the inside will emerge as the nominee," he said. "When that time comes they will fall in line. In the meantime, let's continue to see how much they can make things uncomfortable for the Washington elite."
Kidd cautioned, however, that message voters may end up regretting weakening establishment control of the political process.
"Remember Eric Cantor and Dave Brat?" he asked. "How many Republicans have I talked with since that election who said, 'I just thought I would send Cantor a message. ... I didn't think he'd actually lose.' "
Brat defeated then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the June 2014 Republican primary for the Seventh Congressional District seat 56 to 44 percent. Internal Cantor polling issued just two days before the election showed him defeating Brat by 34 points.