Poll: Carson leads Trump by 12 in NC Ben Carson has a double-digit lead in North Carolina over the rest of the 2016 GOP presidential field, a new poll finds. Carson takes 31 percent support from Republican-leaning voters in the state, according to the Elon University survey released Thursday. That gives him a 12-point edge over his closest competition, Donald Trump, who is at 19 percent. Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) tie for third and fourth with 9.7 percent each. Former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Fla.) follows with 4.6 percent. Carson is also the top pick as a back-up candidate among the Tar Heel state's Republican-leaning voters, with 15.1 percent saying he's their second choice. Trump edges out Rubio as a back-up, with 14.4 percent to the senator's 13.6 percent. Cruz is the second choice for 9.4 percent, while 5 percent would select Bush as their follow up. The poll's results come as Carson and Trump are locked in a close struggle nationwide for the GOP nomination. Carson overtook the outspoken billionaire’s place atop the RealClearPolitics average of polls Wednesday, after trailing Trump in the rankings there all summer long. He now leads Trump by less than 1 point in the aggregate polling index. Trump has gradually stepped up his attacks on Carson despite the pair’s initially warm relationship on the campaign trail. He has criticized the retired neurosurgeon’s soft-spoken demeanor and raised questions about his strict Seventh-day Adventist faith. Elon University's poll of 466 Republican primary voters and GOP-leaning independent primary voters was conducted via telephone from Oct. 29 to Nov. 2. It has a 4.54 percent margin of error.