PHOENIX -- A new poll suggests that Arizona Republicans are looking for a president who can claim what might be called plausible deniability for anything that's gone wrong.
The survey of 787 likely GOP voters finds billionaire Donald Trump remains atop the list of favorites. In fact, he may have gotten something of a small bump in the weeks since the candidates faced off in the first televised debate and now is the choice of 28 percent of those questioned.
But what is more surprising is the surge for who follows.
Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson nearly doubled his backing among Arizona Republicans, going from less than 9 percent at the end of July to more than 15 percent in the survey conducted Monday.
And former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, whose national rankings didn't even put her with the big kids at the first debate, now finds herself supported by more than 10 percent of Arizona GOP voters.
That pattern got the attention of pollster Michael Noble.
"When have you ever seen it in our time (that) at this point in time for a presidential race that the top three candidates are all people that never held public office?' he asked.
Noble pointed out that the three candidates together tally 54 percent of the vote. By contrast, the other seven candidates who people were asked about on Monday polled a combined 33.7 percent, with 11.2 percent of those questioned saying they were unsure or undecided.
"What this shows is that there's this anger or feeling in the country that they don't want these typical politicians,' Noble said. "They want folks that will talk straight with them and they're not groomed and based on polling and talking points.'
The question, he said, is how long that anti-politician feeling will last.
He said the response appears to be largely emotional. But Noble said that may change when Republicans actually have to go to the polls and decide who has the best chance of beating the Democrat nominee.
Noble said that may work particularly hard against Trump, what with the belief that he may not do well among women and Hispanics. But for the time being, he said, Trump continues to lead the pack.
"Everyone thought he'd collapse after the debate,' Noble said.
"Surprisingly, he hasn't,' he continued. "So it's a very weird anomaly that we're witnessing.'
Carson may be in line for another boost from Arizona Republicans: Aside from a rally he scheduled Tuesday night in Phoenix, Carson is scheduled to visit the border today (eds: wednesday) as well as get briefings on immigration issues from Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu and Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels.
The automated telephone survey, which a margin of error of 3.5 percentage point, has former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in fourth place at 9 percent, three points lower than the July survey. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is No. 5, picking up 2.5 points from his 6 percent showing in July.
Noble said the questions were asked only of those who identified themselves as having voted in at least two of the last three Republican primaries.
On Twitter: @azcapmediaCandidate / July 29 results / Aug. 17 results
Donald Trump / 26.5% / 28.0%
Ben Carson / 8.7% / 15.2%
Carly Fiorina / NA / 10.4%
Jeb Bush / 12.1% / 9.0%
Ted Cruz / 6.0% / 8.5%
Marco Rubio / 3.9% / 5.7%
John Kasich / NA / 4.2%
Scott Walker / 12.6% / 3.9%
Mike Huckabee / 3.9% / 2.4%
Rand Paul / 1.7% / 1.4%
Undecided / 21.0% / 11.2%
NA -- not included in earlier survey
-- Source: MBQF Consulting