Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz dominate a new poll of conservative activists, commissioned by Citizens United.
Trump leads the Republican field with 38.6 percent support, followed closely by Cruz, who had the support of 32.9 percent of poll respondents. Together, the two outsider candidates command more than 70 percent support from grass roots activists.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio was a very distant third, with just 10.2 percent support.
“In the latest Citizens United membership presidential poll – 50 days before the Iowa Caucus – anti-establishment conservatives are carrying the day. Since our last poll in September, Mr. Trump has built even more support and Senator Cruz is surging,” David N. Bossie, President of Citizens United, said in a statement.
Nearly 2,700 grassroots activists from across the country took part in the on-line survey. Citizens United is one of the leading conservative activist groups in the United States. While the survey isn’t a traditional poll, it provides a good barometer of the enthusiasm for the leading Republican candidates among grass roots activists.
Enthusiasm will be a key factor in deciding the Republican nomination, especially in early voting caucus states like Iowa. The Hawkeye State casts its first votes in the contest in less than two months, followed closely by New Hampshire.
Neurosurgeon Ben Carson was fourth in the survey, with 8.9 percent support. Outside of the top 4 candidates, i.e. Trump, Cruz, Rubio and Carson, no Republican candidate earned more than 2 percent support.
Activists were also asked which candidate they thought had the best chance of defeating presumptive Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton in November. Trump was viewed as the strongest nominee by more than 41 percent of respondents. Cruz was second, with 27 percent believing he had the best chance against Hillary. Marco Rubio was again a distant third, with 12 percent thinking he was better positioned against Clinton.
The Citizens United survey confirms the outsider phenomenon that has captured the Republican nomination. While Trump and Cruz are each particularly popular with grass roots activists, their combined support reflects the strong anti-establishment feeling among the most engaged Republican voters.
When establishment candidates, together, can only attract the support of no more than 20 percent of activists nationwide, the mainstream Republican party faces a severe branding crisis with its most active supporters.
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