Washington: A day before the second Republican presidential debate, two new polls found neurosurgeon Ben Carson catching up with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton`s national lead narrowing with a rapid erosion of Democratic women`s support.
Amassing considerable new support from Republican voters, Carson at 23 percent is just four points behind real estate mogul Trump as their pick for the party`s presidential nomination, according to a new New York Times/CBS News poll.
"Far more than other Republican contenders, Carson has capitalised on his outsider message - a mix of anti-establishment views, delivered in a calmer tone than Trump`s, and socially conservative positions - to draw voters away from rivals and leap ahead in the poll," the Times said.
While the proportion of Republican voters favouring Carson rose to 23 percent from 6 percent in the previous CBS News poll, taken just before the first televised Republican debate in early August, Trump made modest gains, to 27 percent from 24 percent.
Establishment favourite Jeb Bush fell in the poll, to 6 percent, from 13 percent, and Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin tumbled to 2 percent from 10 percent, according to the poll.
The only other significant gain was made by the third outsider in the Republican field, Carly Fiorina, the former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard, who drew support from 4 percent of voters, compared with a minimal percentage in midsummer.
Meanwhile a Washington Post-ABC News poll saw Clinton suffering a rapid erosion of support among "Democratic women" - the voters long presumed to be the bedrock in her bid to become the nation`s first female president.
Where 71 percent of Democratic-leaning female voters said in July that they expected to vote for Clinton, only 42 percent do now, a drop of 29 points in eight weeks.
Clinton`s erosion of support is largely attributed to the controversy surrounding her use of a private server when she was secretary of state and her response to it amid reports that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into the security of her e-mails.
As a result, Clinton`s once-commanding national lead over Senator Bernie Sanders, who is running to her left, and Vice President Joe Biden, who is considering joining the race, has been cut by two-thirds, the Post said.
Both men are now polling in the low 20s against her.
"The poll suggests that the historic significance of Clinton`s campaign is being overtaken by other forces," the Post said.
Clinton, according to the Post, did not dispute the drop in support when asked about it Monday at a news conference in Cedar Falls, Iowa.
"I`ve been in and around enough campaigns to know that there`s an ebb and flow," she said. "Polls go up and down."