Trump holds on to a wide lead in the polls despite his latest controversy
Donald Trump continued to defy the laws of political gravity yesterday as a Reuters/Ipsos poll found the real estate mogul holding on to a wide lead among Republicans in the US presidential race, despite an acerbic debate and a feud with a female television anchor that have bolstered charges of sexism.
Trump led the party's 17-strong 2016 presidential field with the backing of 24pc of Republican voters, unchanged from before last Thursday's televised debate.
His closest rival, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, trails at 12pc, down from 17pc before the debate. No other candidate earned more than 8pc in the online poll.
The reality television star has been under intense criticism for caustic comments about Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly during and after the debate, and was uninvited from a weekend gathering of conservative activists in Georgia.
Mr Trump had said that Ms Kelly, who helped moderate the debate, had "blood coming out of her wherever."
He has been a focus of controversy since June, when he entered the race for the Republican nomination in the November 2016 election.
Harsh comments about Mexican immigrants drew widespread condemnation and prompted some business partners to sever ties, while his feud with Arizona senator John McCain, the party's 2008 presidential nominee, has angered many party officials.
However, the drama has done little so far to dent Mr Trump's appeal among less affluent, conservative-leaning voters, who say his brash style is needed to shake up an overly cautious political system and that his vast wealth would help him resist corrupting influences.
"They want someone who's an outsider, who can upset the applecart," said Craig Robinson, a former political director of the Iowa Republican Party.
"They're willing to deal with a less-than-perfect candidate if they believe it will actually change things in Washington."
Despite Mr Trump's outsider appeal, he fares no better against Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton than other Republican candidates.
In a head-to-head match-up, Ms Clinton would beat Mr Trump by 43pc to 29pc, the poll found. Ms Clinton would beat other Republican candidates such as Mr Bush, Florida senator Marco Rubio and Texas senator Ted Cruz by similar margins.
The debate did little to change Republican voters' opinions of Mr Trump, the poll found. One-third said they liked him more after the debate, one-third said they liked him less, and the remaining third said their opinions had not changed.
Other candidates fared better. Voters said the debate had improved their opinions of Mr Rubio, Mr Cruz, former technology executive Carly Fiorina, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee.
Only Kentucky senator Rand Paul appears to have been hurt, as 8pc of those polled said their opinion of him improved, while 22pc said they felt more negative.