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Monday, December 18, 2017

Let this week of polling be another confirmation: Every time Donald Trump says something so outrageous that people are widely shocked and horrified — that’s when he’ll be going further up in the polls again.

IOWA

On Monday, a Monmouth University poll of showed Ted Cruz taking the lead in Iowa with 24 percent, followed by Trump at 19 percent, Rubio 17 percent, and a seriously declining Ben Carson with 13 percent. (In their previous survey, Carson led in Iowa with 32 percent.)

Later that day, Trump announced his proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States “until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.” And at least a few people thought those two events were connected.

The Donald has denied that there was any such connection — but even if there was, he didn’t have much to worry about. Soon afterward, still on Monday, the CNN poll was released that showed him way ahead in Iowa: Trump 33 percent, Cruz 20 percent, Carson 16 percent, and Rubio 11 percent.

Obviously, those two polls can’t both be right — and who knows, perhaps they might both be wrong. In either case, Trump’s call for the Muslim ban has already changed the race from whatever it was before, as we shall soon see.

SOUTH CAROLINA

The Fox News poll of South Carolina released Wednesday showed Trump way ahead in this pivotal early primary southern state with 35 percent, followed far back by Carson at 15 percent, and Cruz and Rubio with 14 percent each.

And what’s more, Fox’s analysis finds that the Muslim ban — condemned by Republican leaders and Trump’s GOP rivals — possibly boosted him over the course of the poll:

The poll, released Wednesday, was conducted Saturday through Tuesday evenings. Trump made provocative remarks Monday about barring Muslims from entering the United States.

It looks like his comments help him in South Carolina. Support for Trump increased eight points after his statement — from 30 percent the first two nights vs. 38 percent the last two nights. The shift is within the margin of sampling error.

Republican pollster Daron Shaw says, “There are enough people in the last two nights of the sample to question the widespread assumption that Trump’s comments will hurt him among GOP primary voters.” Shaw conducts the Fox News Poll with Democratic pollster Chris Anderson.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

The new WBUR/MassInc poll of the New Hampshire primary, released Friday, has Trump in the lead with 27 percent, followed by Chris Christie with 12 percent — his one bright spot in recent polls — then Rubio 11 percent, and Cruz 10 percent.

“The question that people have been asking this week is whether the comments that Donald Trump made earlier this week would hurt him,” said pollster Steve Koczela. “And what this poll shows is that in New Hampshire that certainly was not the case.”

One local voter, Donald Sullivan of Londonderry, had this to say: “I don’t think Muslims is [sic] a religion at all. I think it’s a cult.”

THE NATIONAL PICTURE

The USA Today/Suffolk University poll released Tuesday — but conducted entirely before the Muslim ban proposal — had Trump ahead with 27 percent, then Cruz 17 percent, Rubio 16 percent, and Carson 10 percent.

Also worrying for the GOP in this poll: Among Trump’s supporters, 68 percent said they would support The Donald if he bolted the party in order to run as an independent, against only 18 percent who said they wouldn’t leave the tent with him. So whenever Trump threatens to leave the GOP if they don’t treat him “fairly,” he has a weapon at hand to make that threat credible.

The CBS News/New York Times poll released Thursday, but conducted mostly before the Muslim ban proposal, had Trump way up with 35 percent, then Cruz 16 percent, Carson 13 percent, and Rubio 9 percent.

Photo: U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures as he speaks at the meeting of the New England Police Benevolent Association in Portsmouth, New Hampshire December 10, 2015. REUTERS/Mary Schwalm

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