March 23, 2016
Five national pollsters have surveyed GOP voters in the aftermath of the March 15 primaries. These are the first to ask respondents to choose between a mere three choices.
While individual state polls are generally more important once voting begins, the shortage of contests over the next month gives us an excuse to look at national numbers to give us an idea of what may happen when voters return en masse to the primary season in late April.
CBS/New York Times (3/17 to 3/20)
Cruz + Kasich 46%
CNN/ORC (3/17 to 3/20)
Cruz + Kasich 48%
Rasmussen Reports (3/16 to 3/17)
Cruz + Kasich 48%
Monmouth (3/17 to 3/20)
Cruz + Kasich 47%
Quinnipiac (3/16 to 3/21)
Cruz + Kasich 45%
Let’s dispense with the fiction that John Kasich is all that much of a spoiler. If one candidate has approximately the same support as the other two combined, it’s unlikely he would lose a head-to-head matchup.
Trump now sits between 41 and 47 percent against two opponents. If you remove undecided voters, he’s extremely close to 50. The Real Clear Politics average has Trump 44, Cruz + Rubio 45.
In order to assume Cruz or Kasich could win a two-way race, the anti-Trump would need to win almost all of the undecided voters, plus a large majority of the exiting candidate’s supporters.
Quinnipiac tested this out:
Trump 46, Cruz 37
Trump 56, Kasich 25
Trump remains unpopular nationwide. He’s near 2 to 1 opposition in the recent round of polls. But less than half of the registered voters in the states in question are eligible to vote in the remainder of GOP primaries.
If 15 to 20 percent of Americans are staunchly pro-Trump, it’s enough to get him nominated, even in a two-person contest. This support is more male than female, more less educated than more.
Quinnipiac is showing Cruz running at least even with Trump among women and voters with college degrees. However, the gap among men and less educated voters is enough to give Trump a huge edge.
When Trump was sitting at 25% in GOP primary polls, it was clear his core support was white, male, less educated voters. That’s still true. However, he’s doing well enough with women, with educated voters, with everyone from moderates to very conservatives to win the nomination.
We’ll cover general election possibilities separately. For now, it’s up to Cruz and Kasich to do something different if they want to stop Trump. He’s built on his core and is on track to either get 1237 delegates, or get really close.
There’s nothing in the numbers to indicate Kasich is Cruz’s problem. Being less appealing to GOP primary voters than Donald Trump is the issue. His time to fix this is very short.