Trump maintains commanding national lead, poll finds

Donald Trump ("Donald Trump by Gage Skidmore 3" by Gage Skidmore. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

Donald Trump holding onto a commanding national lead in the race for the Republican nomination, according to the latest Monmouth University Poll.

Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are the only other two candidates polling in double digits. Among these three, Trump is seen as the stronger opponent against Hillary Clinton in November’s general election. Also, one-third of Republican voters do not believe or are unsure whether Cruz is a natural born citizen, while 1-in-10 say the same about Trump.

When Republicans and Republican-leaning voters are asked who they would support for the GOP nomination for president, Trump leads the pack at 36 percent. This is down slightly from his Monmouth poll- high of 41 percent in December, but he still doubles the support of his nearest rival. Cruz clocks in at 17 percent, up slightly from 14 percent last month. Rubio garners 11 percent support, similar to his 10 percent showing in December.

The rest of the pack includes Ben Carson (8 percent), Jeb Bush (5 percent), Chris Christie (3 percent), Mike Huckabee (3 percent), John Kasich (3 percent), Rand Paul (2 percent), Carly Fiorina (1 percent), Rick Santorum (1 percent) and Jim Gilmore (0 percent). The poll was conducted after last week’s debate.

Trump continues to draw his support evenly across the ideological spectrum – including 35 percent of very conservative voters, 36 percent of somewhat conservative voters, and 36 percent of moderate voters. Cruz does best among those who are very conservative (27%) or somewhat conservative (18 percent), compared with moderate (7 percent) voters. Rubio pulls in a consistent 11-12 percent among all three groups.

“These results suggest that the GOP race is fairly static on a national level. We’ll have to wait and see if the Iowa and New Hampshire results shake things up,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.

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