Iowa poll: Trump 23, Carson 18; Clinton 37, Sanders 30

A brand new Bloomberg-Des Moines Register poll of likely Republican caucus-goers in Iowa finds Donald Trump in the lead with 23 percent. Ben Carson runs second with 18 percent. Carson is the second choice of 14 percent; Trump ranks second for 9 percent.

In three polls taken earlier this month, Trump led Carson by an average margin of almost 8 points. Thus, Carson has gained on Trump.

But Trump will be encouraged not only by his lead, but by the fact that, according to the Bloomberg-Des Moines Register poll, he is viewed favorably by 61 percent of likely Republican caucus-goers and unfavorably by 35 percent. These numbers aren’t terrific, but they represent an almost complete reversal of those in the last Bloomberg-Des Moines Register, which was taken in May. In addition, only 29 percent say they could never vote for Trump, half of the May percentage (poll respondents should never say never).

Trump will also be heartened by the erosion of Scott Walker’s support. Once the frontrunner in Iowa, Walker’s support is down to 8 percent. This puts him in a virtual tie for third place with Ted Cruz.

Scott Walker is beginning to look like the Tim Pawlenty of this race. Nice guy, good governor, but a poor candidate for president.

As for Carson, his surge has been fueled in part by advertising. During the past month, he aired more ads in Iowa than any other presidential candidate.

But Carson also seems like a natural for Iowa, more so than Trump. I’ve never visited the Hawkeye State (I plan to soon), but by reputation its residents are super-nice and its Republican caucus-goers are devoutly religious.

Donald Trump projects as neither; Dr. Carson projects as both.

With Trump and Carson running 1-2 in Iowa, Cruz tied for third, and Carly Fiorina in seventh place, it seems clear that, at this juncture, the overriding sentiment of a critical mass of Iowa caucus-goers is disgust with the “political class.” But it is Carson alone who seems capable of expressing the disgust in an Iowa-friendly way.

Finally, let’s not overlook the Bloomberg-Des Moines Register poll results for the Democrats. They show Hillary Clinton leading Bernie Sanders 37-30.

Joe Biden, who isn’t running as of yet, stands at 14 percent. But even when Biden was excluded, Clinton’s support rose only to 43 percent.

This is the first time that Clinton has dropped below the 50 percent mark in polls conducted this year by Bloomberg/Des Moines Register. Moreover, Clinton has lost a third of her supporters since May.

The Register can’t resist noting that this trajectory, if sustained, puts her at risk of losing again in Iowa. I can’t resist passing these words along.