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Poll: Donald Trump leads GOP field with widest margin so far

Ted Cruz, Donald Trump battle for top spot ah... 02:30

Donald Trump's lead over the Republican field has widened to its largest margin so far in a new poll taken after his proposal to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the U.S.

A new national Washington Post-ABC News poll released Tuesday found that Trump attracted 38 percent support from registered Republicans and Republican-leaning independents. Ted Cruz moved into second, with 15 percent, twice what his support was last month.

Marco Rubio of Florida and Ben Carson each earned 12 percent support in the survey -- Carson's numbers dropped by about half over the past month. Jeb Bush received 5 percent among registered Republicans.

On Monday, a Monmouth University poll similarly found Trump expanding his lead, with 41 percent of GOP voters backing Trump for president, up 13 percentage points since mid-October. That poll also had Ted Cruz in second place.

Trump widens lead but rivals make gains 08:03

The Post-ABC poll found that in a general election matchup Trump would trail Democratic frontrunner by 50 percent to 44 percent among registered voters.

Just 29 percent of Americans said they would feel comfortable with Trump as president, versus 47 percent who would feel comfortable with Clinton in the top office. Sixty-nine percent of adults said they would feel anxious if Trump were president.

The Washington Post pointed out that even though the first voting contest is less than 50 days out, "national polls are not always the reliable predictors of where presidential nominating contests are heading." Newt Gingrich was tied with Mitt Romney at this point four years ago. In December 2007, Rudy Giuliani and Hillary led the field at this time in national polls, and neither of them won the nomination of their respective parties.

The Post-ABC poll was conducted Thursday through Sunday Dec. 10-13 among a random national sample of 1,002 adults reached on conventional and cellular telephones. Overall results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. The error margin is plus or minus six points among the sample of 362 Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters.

Watch Republican debate coverage Tuesday night, live on CBSN.

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