Donald Trump now has 49 percent support, close to a majority of Republicans, in his race for the White House, says Reuters’ national tracking poll.
The Reuters tracking poll released Friday shows Trump with 49.7 percent support among Republicans nationwide.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is second with 21.5 percent, followed by Ohio Governor John Kasich with 12.3 percent. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who left the Presidential contest on Wednesday, had 8.9 percent support in the poll.
The poll, of 648 Republicans nationwide, was conducted over the previous five days. As a result, it includes interviews conducted before Rubio left the nomination contest.
As expected, Trump’s poll numbers have climbed steadily as he has racked up wins during the primary campaign. On February 20, just as South Carolina was about to hand Trump a decisive victory, the frontrunner had the support of 35 percent of Republicans nationwide. He has gained just over 14 points in the last month.
Trump, however, continues to benefit from a fractured Republican field. At the beginning of the year, Trump had the support of 48 percent of Republicans across the country. At that time, Ben Carson was a very distant second with 12 percent and Ted Cruz, at 11 percent, was the only other candidate to poll in the double-digits.
Across this timeframe, opposition to a Trump candidacy has shifted across several candidates, who have each risen and fallen as the primary season unfolds.
That said, with Trump’s support nearing the critical majority threshold, he remains in firm control of the race to win the nomination.
There are, however, two important caveats to Trump’s standing in the Reuters poll.
First, his actual results in primary and caucus contests remain far below his national polling numbers. In 2012, Mitt Romney’s national polling numbers largely tracked with his results in individual primaries. Throughout March, 2012, which was further in the primary season than this year, Romney was polling in the high 30s to low 40s and winning that level of support in primaries.
Trump, by contrast, has been polling in the low-mid 40s in the Reuters tracking poll, but winning an average of 37 percent support through all the primary contests so far. In most recent contests, late-deciders have broken strongly away from Trump, suggesting, ironically, that the frontrunner has a problem “closing the sale” with Republicans.
While the Reuters tracking poll shows Trump continues to dominate the race for the Republican nomination, he is still struggling against Democrat frontrunner Hillary Clinton. In the latest Reuters head-to-head match-up, Trump trails Clinton by eight points, 36-44.
Trump’s eight-point deficit against Clinton has held since the beginning of February, amid interviews with almost 12,000 likely general election voters nationwide.
Trump is nearing his goal of capturing the Republican nomination. His ultimate goal of winning the White House, however, remains very much a work in progress.