WASHINGTON (UPI) — For the first time in a national poll, Donald Trump is approaching the all-important 50 percent threshold of support among Republican primary voters.
In a survey conducted by CNN and ORC, the volatile Republican front-runner drew support from 49 percent of participants, good enough to beat all of his rivals in the GOP field combined.
The 50 percent threshold is significant for the obvious reason — it gives Trump a majority, rather than a plurality, of support. It is also significant because many who oppose his insurgent candidacy have explained away Trump’s success as due to voters’ divided support among a large field of more traditional candidates.
But, as the field has narrowed through four nominating contests, the CNN poll suggests Trump himself is consolidating support, rather than his rivals with ties to establishment Republican politics.
Still, other recent national polls have not shown anything close to the 49 percent CNN gave Trump. A survey conducted in mid-February by Fox News gave Trump 36 percent of the GOP vote, and another poll by NBC and the Wall Street Journal conducted at the same time placed his support at 26 percent. Those polls were conducted prior to Trump’s blowout victories in the South Carolina primary and the Nevada caucus.
Other national polls conducted since Trump’s victory in New Hampshire on Feb. 1 have placed him in the low- to mid-30s.
The CNN/ORC poll has all of Trumps rivals trailing badly: Sen. Marco Rubio leads the rest of the pack at 16 percent; Sen. Ted Cruz garnered 15 percent support; neurosurgeon Ben Carson clocked in at 10 percent; Ohio Gov. John Kasich received 6 percent.
Questions about voters’ perceptions of the candidates also showed Trump in a commanding position. Fifty-one percent of voters said he was the candidate best equipped to solve the nation’s problems and 48 percent said he was best-suited to handle the duties of commander-in-chief. And in a brutally negative campaign that has seen every candidate’s trustworthiness questioned by their opponents, Trump prevailed in that category, as well. Thirty-five percent of respondents ranked him the “most honest and trustworthy” candidate in the field.
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton holds a commanding lead over her lone remaining opponent, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Clinton holds a lead of 55 percent to Sanders’ 38 percent.
The CNN/ORC poll was conducted from Feb. 24 to 27 and included 1,001 adults, including 429 self-described Republicans or independents who lean Republican, who were asked specifically about the GOP race. It has a margin of error of 5 percentage points.
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