Two political novices - billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump and former neurosurgeon Ben Carson - top the latest survey as the choice of U.S. Republicans for the party's 2016 presidential nomination.
As the 16-candidate Republican field gets set for another round of debates Wednesday night, the CBS/New York Times poll released Tuesday shows the flamboyant Trump with 27 percent support and the much more reserved Carson trailing with 23 percent.
None of a large group of current and former governors and senators seeking the nomination reached double digit figures in the poll that was conducted in the last few days. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, the son and brother of two former U.S. presidents, was third at 6 percent, less than half of the 13 percent figure he recorded in an early August poll. Carson's support surged since then, jumping from 6 percent.
Neither Trump nor Carson have held elected office before, but both are winning support from Republicans for their anti-Washington rhetoric and conservative positions on such social issues as abortion and gay rights.
They also have aimed attacks at both Democratic President Barack Obama, who is constitutionally barred from seeking a third term, and leaders of the Republican-controlled Congress, who they view as too willing to compromise with more liberal Democrats on key issues.
The first voting in the long journey to picking presidential nominees in the U.S. is not scheduled until February 1, at caucuses in the rural state of Iowa, and voters often change their minds about their preferred candidates. The CBS/New York Times poll said that only 37 percent of the Republicans surveyed said their minds are made up, with 63 percent saying it was still too early to commit to a choice.
In another recent poll, The Washington Post and ABC News found that 56 percent of U.S. registered voters do not consider Trump qualified to be president.
Established Republican politicians have been stymied so far in their efforts to combat the popularity of Trump, who has built skyscrapers and casinos and hosted a television reality show. He has routinely taunted his opponents as "losers," while vowing to evict more than 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. from the country and build an impenetrable wall on the U.S.-Mexican border to keep out more migrants.
At a rally Monday, he called the U.S. "a dumping ground for the rest of the world."
The soft-spoken Carson, with staunch conservative views, has gained support as an alternative to Trump's bluntness on the campaign trail. Before retiring as a physician, Carson was the first surgeon to successfully separate conjoined twins joined at the head.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continues to lead national surveys in the Democratic presidential nomination contest, over a Democratic socialist, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. But Clinton's support has dipped sharply amid questions about the handling of classified U.S. documents on a private email server she used during her four-year tenure as the country's top diplomat. Vice President Joe Biden is also considering a late entry into the race for the Democratic nomination.
Some material for this report came from AP.