With debate looming, Trump has huge lead in new poll AP Photo The identities of the 10 Republicans likely to be on stage at Thursday’s presidential debate are coming into focus after another poll on Monday shows Donald Trump running away from the rest of the field and Rick Perry lagging behind his competitors for the final spot. A new Monmouth University poll has Trump at 26 percent, easily topping his competitors. The next-closest candidates — former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker — are at 12 percent and 11 percent, respectively. Both the new Monmouth survey and an average of the five most recent live-caller polls — Fox News’ criteria for whittling the list of Republicans down to 10 candidates for Thursday night’s debate — reinforce the tiers that have developed since Trump upended the race by surging to the top. Beneath Trump, Bush and Walker are five more candidates who are hovering around 6 percent in the poll average (and scored between 4 percent and 6 percent in the Monmouth poll): pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. Those eight candidates are virtually assured of spots on the debate stage. The race for the final two places is close — but becoming clearer. The Monmouth poll has New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at 4 percent, Ohio Gov. John Kasich at 3 percent and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry at 2 percent. That puts Christie and Kasich in a tie for ninth place in the average, at 3.4 percent — ahead of Perry, who is at 2.8 percent. It’s not clear whether there will be any new polling between now and Tuesday afternoon, Fox News’ deadline for making the cut. The network won’t comment about its plans, but it seems likely it will release its own poll. Perry, however, would likely need to significantly outperform either Christie or Kasich in any subsequent surveys to steal a place on the stage. Some uncertainty remains : Fox News has been vague about which polls it will use; a New York Magazine report last week indicated the network hadn’t even decided which pollsters would meet its criteria for inclusion. POLITICO’s model is comprised of the five most recent live-caller surveys, but it’s possible Fox could impose further restrictions. It also could decide that, because whichever surveys it decides to include contain expected margins of error, that the slight differences between Christie, Kasich and Perry merit declaring it a tie and admitting 11 candidates instead of 10. The 12th-place candidate, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, is more than a full point behind Perry. “I suppose Fox hoped that a top tier would emerge by the time the first debate rolled around,” said Patrick Murray of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. “But based on current polling, there’s no good rationale for arbitrarily selecting a top 10.” In fact, the Monmouth poll shows few Republicans support Fox’s choice. Given a choice of Fox’s approach, a debate with all the candidates, or two back-to-back debates with split fields, only 23 percent think there should be a debate just for the top 10, with the other candidates relegated to a forum earlier in the day. The plurality, 45 percent, support two back-to-back, randomly assigned debates — while 29 percent think all the candidates should debate at one time. But for now, the race, like Thursday’s debate, is defined by Trump. He earns more support from male Republicans (32 percent) than from women (20 percent), and more from tea party supporters (35 percent) than from those who say they don’t support the tea party (20 percent). The poll found no difference in support among those respondents who say they are Republicans and others who are Republican-leaning independents. “Republican support for Donald Trump just continues to grow with no clear sense of who his constituency really is,” said Murray. The Monmouth University poll was conducted July 30-Aug. 2, surveying 423 self-identified registered voters who identify as Republicans or lean toward the GOP. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.8 percentage points.