Capitol Alert

Trump, Carson, Fiorina lead poll in California

Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina have surged in California, joining Donald Trump atop a crowded field of Republican presidential candidates in this late-voting but major donor state, according to a new poll.

The Field Poll, released Thursday, reflects national movement in the Republican presidential primary, with three political outsiders leading establishment politicians.

Trump has captivated likely Republican primary voters in California, holding 17 percent support.

But Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, and Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard Co. chief executive, each shot up 10 percentage points from May. They now stand at 15 percent and 13 percent, respectively.

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida is running fourth at 10 percent.

The poll’s relatively small sample and wide margin of error, at plus or minus 7 percentage points, makes differentiating between the front-runners difficult.

But the measurement illustrates the tumult of the primary campaign. When Field last surveyed likely voters in February and May, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker – who has since dropped out – was among leaders of the race, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush enjoyed higher levels of support.

When those early polls were taken, Trump, the real estate developer and TV personality, had not yet announced his candidacy. Fiorina, who ran unsuccessfully for a U.S. Senate seat in California in 2010, polled at just 3 percent in May.

“The standings in the two previous Field Polls – it’s just totally different than what we’re seeing now,” poll director Mark DiCamillo said. “And I suspect that we’re going to go through more transformations as we go through the early primaries. ... I expect it to be a bumpier ride than what you’d usually see, where it’s kind of clear how the trends are going.”

Trump, Carson and Fiorina hold greater appeal among California’s strongly conservative Republicans and those identifying with the tea party, according to the poll.

Trump, despite his strong standing, has yet to persuade Republicans he can win. Just 28 percent of likely Republican voters in California think he will be the party’s nominee, according to the poll. Fifty-eight of likely Republican voters think Trump won’t become the nominee, and 14 percent have no opinion.

Among poll respondents who had yet to make up their mind on a candidate was Archie Yarbrough, a retired mail carrier who lives near Hanford.

“I want to see who all’s going to run and how long they’re going to run before I make up my mind,” the 87-year-old Republican said. “They’re kind of like flies, dropping out now and then.”

David Siders: 916-321-1215, @davidsiders