- Trump gets crushed by Clinton in hypothetical match-up
- Kasich is only Republican left in field who beats Clinton
The most committed Republican voters aren’t rallying behind efforts to deny Donald Trump the party’s nomination at their national convention in July, but he still faces an uphill climb after that.
A Bloomberg Politics national poll shows 63 percent of those who have voted in this year’s Republican primaries and caucuses, or plan to do so, back the billionaire’s view of the nominating process and think the person with the most delegates should win, even if he lacks a majority.
If he emerges as the nominee, the survey also suggests that Trump faces a difficult path to the White House. Hillary Clinton, his likely Democratic competitor, crushes him in a hypothetical general-election match-up. In another troubling sign, Trump is viewed unfavorably by 68 percent of Americans -- well above the 53 percent who feel that way about Clinton. If both make it to the general election, the race would feature two historically unpopular figures as the nominees.
“Trump’s numbers are bad and getting worse,” said pollster J. Ann Selzer, who oversaw the survey. “A majority of Americans now describe their feelings toward him as very unfavorable. That’s a 13-point spike from November 2015.”
In the process, the Republican front-runner may also be tarnishing his party’s brand. Sixty percent of Americans view the GOP unfavorably, easily the highest level recorded in the poll since it was started in September 2009. The Democratic Party, in contrast, is viewed negatively by 43 percent.
Trump holds a strong lead over his two remaining Republican rivals, Ohio Governor John Kasich and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, among this year’s actual and likely Republican primary and caucus voters. The front-runner has the support of 40 percent, followed by Cruz at 31 percent and Kasich at 25 percent.
While just 29 percent of Americans view Trump favorably, Cruz doesn’t do much better, at 32 percent. At 46 percent, Kasich scores the best among the Republican field.
Trump does worse against Clinton than either of his rivals in general-election tests. She beats him 54 percent to 36 percent, while besting Cruz 51 percent to 42 percent. Kasich is the only Republican still in the race who manages to beat the former secretary of state, 47 percent to 43 percent.
“For those wondering why Kasich hasn’t dropped out of the race -- with his distant third-place showing in delegates -- that is the reason,” Selzer said of his potential general-election appeal.
In a hypothetical race against Clinton, some of Kasich’s strongest demographic groups are married parents, whites, Catholics, and men. He gets 53 percent of the vote or more with all of those groups.
Matched against Clinton, Kasich does even better than Trump among white men, a source of strength for the businessman during the primary season. The governor gets 60 percent of the white-male vote against Clinton, compared to 49 percent for Trump.
Overall, Americans are much more likely to agree with Clinton’s view of America’s status than with Trump’s. His campaign slogan is “Make America Great Again,” while she has pushed back against that by declaring at rallies, “America has never stopped being great.”
Asked if America is “no longer great” or “never stopped being great,” 63 percent pick Clinton’s version.
The contested convention strategy endorsed by Kasich and Mitt Romney pins hopes for stopping Trump on rules that allow for others to seek and win the nomination if no one gathers 1,237 delegates before the convention. With a split decision between Trump and Cruz in Tuesday’s primaries in Arizona and Utah, the businessman has 739 delegates, or 498 short of what it takes to win the nomination outright, Associated Press estimates show.
But 63 percent of those who have voted in Republican primaries or caucuses, or plan to do so, say Trump should be declared the nominee at the party’s convention, as long as he has the more delegates than other Republican candidates.
“If any candidate is leading, then that should be the way it goes,” said Susan Ferguson, 51, a human-resources manager from Virginia Beach, Virginia, who voted for Trump in her state’s primary. “I don’t think the people at the convention represent all the people.”
Romney isn’t viewed much more favorably among Americans overall than his political nemesis, with 58 percent seeing the 2012 Republican nominee in a negative light and nearly a third viewing him positively.
While Democrats and Republicans have criticized Trump for not doing more to stop violence at his rallies, he isn’t getting much blame from those who matter the most in the nomination process. Nearly two-thirds of past and likely Republican primary participants say the protesters are to blame.
“I’ve never voted for anyone like him,” said Denise McLemore, 56, a Trump supporter and kindergarten teacher from Lexington, North Carolina. “He seems very arrogant and outspoken and he reminds me of my kindergarten students: whatever he thinks in his head, he says.”
Despite his shortcomings, McLemore said she wants to take a chance with Trump. “I don’t know if I can trust him, but I like that he’s different,” she said. “He’s made me a believer.”
While Cruz continues to argue that he’d beat Trump in a two-man race, the poll suggests otherwise. When limited to just those two candidates, Trump leads 48 percent to 44 percent among actual and likely Republican primary voters.
The front-runner also scores better on two-thirds of the qualities tested, including having the best chance of beating Clinton and managing the economy. Cruz does better on having the right temperament to be president and embodying “traditional moral values.”
That same group of Republican voters is largely unbothered by some of the most popular attacks used by Trump’s opponents throughout the campaign.
About two-thirds say they don’t care that he’s used Chinese companies to make products for the Trump brand, while 63 percent say that of his support for continued funding for Planned Parenthood services other than abortion. More than half -- 57 percent -- say they’re not bothered that he didn’t immediately denounce the support of David Duke, a former “grand wizard” of the Ku Klux Klan, when asked about it in a television interview.
Past or likely Republican primary voters were nearly evenly split on whether they were bothered or not by Trump University, his for-profit real estate investment school that has been accused in lawsuits of misleading students.
The majority of those voting for Kasich or Cruz in the primary race -- 57 percent -- say they’re doing so to support their candidate, not try to stop Trump.
The national poll of 1,000 adults was conducted March 19-22 by Selzer & Co. of West Des Moines, Iowa. The overall sample has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, while the subgroup of 366 Republican primary voters has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.1 percentage points. The subgroup of 815 likely general-election voters has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.