Trump Most Acceptable Candidate to GOP; Clinton Leads Comfortably

| Tom Jensen

PPP’s new national poll finds that Donald Trump remains the clear front runner- and the GOP base would find someone like Paul Ryan or Mitt Romney being nominated at a contested convention to be unacceptable.

Trump’s polling at 42% to 32% for Ted Cruz and 22% for John Kasich. Kasich’s continued presence in the race really is providing a boost to Trump- in a head to head match up he would lead Cruz only 46-44, as Kasich voters would move to Cruz over Trump by a 51-23 spread. In a head to head with Kasich there would be little effect on Trump’s overall advantage, with Trump leading 52/40 in such a scenario.

Trump continues to have the most committed voters, with 80% of his supporters saying they’ll definitely vote for him compared to 66% for Cruz and 49% for Kasich. Cruz leads Trump 52/39 with ‘very conservative’ voters but Trump continues to lead overall based on his strength with ‘somewhat conservative’ voters among whom he gets 47% to 26% for Kasich and 24% for Cruz. Kasich leads Trump 40/37 with moderates. Trump leads with both men and women, and has at least a modest advantages within every age group.

58% of GOP primary voters say they’d be comfortable with Trump as their party’s nominee to 34% who say they would not be. Trump actually has stronger numbers on that metric than the other candidates- 53% say they would be comfortable with Cruz to 35% who wouldn’t, and 49% say they’d be comfortable with Kasich to 36% who wouldn’t. Turning to Ryan or Romney would really cause division within the party. Although Ryan is decently popular, with a 50/35 approval as Speaker of the House, only 42% of primary voters would be comfortable with him as their candidate to 45% who would not. Romney is completely unacceptable- only 28% say they’d be comfortable with him as nominee to 62% who would not and he’s just generally unpopular- that 28/62 spread is also his favorability rating. We also asked respondents’ feelings about the Republican establishment generally, and only 28% of voters have a positive opinion of it to 55% with a negative one. It’s not surprising that those numbers track closely with feelings about Romney.

Trump also has the best favorability rating among GOP voters at 51/40, followed by Cruz at 49/39, and Kasich at 44/41. There’s been a lot of debate about where Trump fits on the ideological spectrum. 44% of GOP primary voters consider Trump to be a moderate to 31% who think he’s a conservative and 17% who think he’s a liberal. Being perceived as a moderate isn’t necessarily all bad for Trump though- those voting for him are pretty evenly split with 48% considering him a conservative and 42% a moderate- so there are plenty of people supporting him even though they perceive him to be in the middle. There’s less division when it comes to perceptions about the ideology of the other candidates. 70% think Cruz is a conservative to only 16% who think he’s a moderate and 7% who think he’s a liberal. And a majority of voters- 51%- agree that Kasich is a moderate with 28% believing he’s a conservative and 11% that he’s a liberal.

When Donald Trump first rose last summer we found that most of his supporters were birthers who think President Obama is a Muslim and seven months later that dynamic has not changed. Only 26% of Trump voters think President Obama was born in the United States to 52% who think he was not, and just 9% think President Obama is a Christian to 62% who think he’s a Muslim. The numbers aren’t much better among Cruz supporters- just 32% of them think the President was born in the United States to 39% who think he was not and only 12% of them think he’s a Christian to 56% that believe he’s a Muslim. Only Kasich’s supporters come out looking good on these questions- 58% think the President was born in the United States to 23% who think he was not, and 46% think he’s a Christian to 31% who think he’s a Muslim. But having the support of the reasonable segment of the GOP electorate isn’t getting Kasich very far. We also asked if people think Muslims should be allowed to serve in the US Military and Kasich voters said yes by an overwhelming margin (75/15) while Cruz (41/37) and Trump (42/39) voters are closely divided.

On the Democratic side Hillary Clinton continues to have a resounding lead with 54% to 36% for Bernie Sanders. Clinton leads within every gender, race, and age group except younger voters and her supporters are also more committed- 84% say they will definitely vote for her compared to 61% who say the same for Sanders. Democrats generally perceive Clinton to be a moderate- 45% think she is compared to 37% who think she’s a liberal, and 9% who think she’s a conservative. Among Clinton’s own voters 53% think she’s a moderate to 36% who think she’s a liberal, so to her own base being a moderate is not a bad thing. 67% of voters consider Sanders to be a liberal to 13% who think he’s a moderate, and 10% who think he’s a conservative.

Full results here

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