As Gov. John Kasich continues on what many are calling a delusional quest for the nomination, a new poll shows just how much the third-place GOP presidential candidate’s continued presence in the race could be helping frontrunner Donald Trump. And — conversely — how Kasich’s exit from the race could mean a headache on the horizon for Trump.
The new Public Policy Poll released today suggests Kasich’s continued presence in the race may be playing a significant role in the double-digit spread between frontrunner Donald Trump and second-place rival Ted Cruz — a spread that would all but disappear if Kasich were to drop out.
Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz would receive a significant boost in support from conservative voters if Gov. John Kasich dropped out of the race and left the Texas senator to duke it out with front-runner Donald Trump, according to a new national poll.
Public Policy Polling found 42 percent of likely Republican voters would choose Trump if the election was held today, while 32 percent backed Cruz and 22 percent stumped for Kasich.
But when asked who they would back if the Ohio governor suspended his campaign, voters jumped overwhelmingly to Cruz over Trump by a rate of 51-23 percent, respectively.
“The Republican race nationally would be a toss up if it was just Trump and Cruz,” said Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling. “But as long as Kasich stays in there splitting the anti-Trump vote, Trump continues to be in a good position.”
The poll shows that in a head-to-head matchup between Trump and Cruz, Trump’s lead would shrink to 46 to 44 — within the poll’s 4.4 percent margin of error.
It’s possible for Cruz to pick up Kasich’s supporters, too, because the third-ranked candidate had the least committed supporters. A net 49 percent of Kasich backers said they would stick with him, while 66 percent of Cruz’s supporters said they were committed and 80 percent of Trump fans were sure about their decision.
The latest poll undoubtedly only reinforces growing anger among many in the GOP over Kasich’s continued quest for the nomination. As The Hill reports:
A broad cross-section of the GOP is frustrated by what they view as John Kasich’s quixotic quest for the GOP presidential nomination.
The Republicans – some who favor Ted Cruz, some who oppose Donald Trump, some whose sympathies lie with grassroots conservatives, and others with close ties to the establishment – argue Kasich’s quest is futile and self serving, and that it is now helping Trump sew up the nomination.
Of course, regardless of polls now and moving forward, Trump currently commands a significant lead in the delegate count that will require significant catching up even by second-place rival Ted Cruz, with or without Kasich in the race.
But perhaps it’s a bit ironic that the last remaining true “establishment” candidate in the race — Gov. Kasich — is seemingly only just helping the poster child for the anti-establishment movement, Donald Trump, in his bid for the White House.
[Note: This article was written by Michelle Jesse, Associate Editor]