Donald Trump maintains lead over GOP field: NBC-WSJ poll

Donald Trump has not fallen

Donald Trump hasn't fallen yet in the 2016 Republican presidential race.

The new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows the billionaire real estate mogul still leading all GOP rivals with 25 percent of the vote. In September, he drew 21 percent. That change falls within 4.9 percent margin for error in the survey of 400 Republican primary voters.

As in September, the October poll showed former neurosurgeon Ben Carson in second place with 22 percent. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida ranked third with 13 percent, ahead of Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas with 9 percent and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush with 8 percent. Trailing behind were former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina with 7 percent, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Ohio Gov. John Kasich with 3 percent, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky with 2 percent and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie with 1 percent.

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When considering the various candidates' potential for expanding their support, the poll tells a different story. When Republican voters are asked to name their second choice in the race, 22 percent name Carson, compared with 14 percent for Trump, 13 percent for Rubio and 10 percent for Fiorina.

Thus if candidates are ranked by the combination of voters naming them either first or second, Carson draws 44 percent to Trump's 39 percent, Rubio's 26 percent and Fiorina's 18 percent.

Using another measure, 74 percent of all Republican voters allow for the possibility that they could support Carson. Some 65 percent say the same of Rubio, 59 percent of Trump, 56 percent of Fiorina and 51 percent for Bush.

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At a time of turmoil in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, some 63 percent of GOP primary voters say they'd feel "comfortable and positive" if Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin took over as speaker. The current speaker, John Boehner, has announced he'll leave the job soon amid opposition from conservative hard-liners. Those hard-liners also forced majority leader Kevin McCarthy of California to abandon his bid for the speakership.

Some 28 percent of Republicans said they'd feel "skeptical and uncertain" about Ryan holding the top job in the House. Ryan, the party's 2012 vice-presidential nominee, has not said whether he'll seek the speakership.