WASHINGTON • US presidential hopeful Donald Trump's support among Republicans has dropped 12 points in less than a week, marking his biggest decline since he vaulted to the top of the field in July, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll.
Mr Trump was the favourite of 31 per cent of Republicans in a rolling poll in the five days ended Nov 27. That was down from a peak of 43 per cent registered on Nov 22.
The dip follows criticism of the real estate tycoon for comments he made in the aftermath of the Paris attacks on Nov 13 that killed 130 people. He told an NBC News reporter that he would support requiring all Muslims within the United States to be registered with a special database, which his critics have likened to the mandatory registration of Jews in Nazi Germany.
He has also been criticised for flailing his arms and distorting his speech in an imitation of New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski, who has a physical disability.
He mocked the reporter as he defended his unsubstantiated assertion that during the Sept 11, 2001, attacks on the US, he watched on television as "thousands and thousands" of people in New Jersey cheered while the World Trade Center fell.
Mr Kovaleski said in a recent CNN interview that he did "not recall anyone saying there were thousands, or even hundreds, of people celebrating".
The outbursts of Mr Trump have dictated the tenor of the Republican campaign. A little more than two months before voting begins, the candidates have charged into what appears to be the inaugural profanity primary.
Even Mr Jeb Bush, the stern patrician of the Republican race, has shown a growing fondness for some gentler four-letter words.
Mr Trump is not the only canddate to slide in the latest survey.
Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson has seen his poll numbers drift downwards and now trails Mr Trump by more than half, with just 15 per cent of support from Republicans polled. As recently as late October, he had trailed Mr Trump by only six points.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Texas Senator Ted Cruz are tied for third place, with more than 8 per cent each.
Behind them is Mr Bush, with 7 per cent.
REUTERS, NEW YORK TIMES