Kasich Voters Overwhelmingly Prefer Cruz Over Trump

Republican presidential candidate, Gov. John Kasich walks to the stage prior to his address during the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) March 21, 2016 in Washington, DC.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

The latest Quinnipiac poll of the Republican Presidential primary confirms what Ted Cruz supporters have long suspected: if Ohio Governor John Kasich dropped out of the primary, his supporters would overwhelmingly move behind Cruz rather than Donald Trump.

Kasich pulls just 16 percent support among Republicans nationwide. Half of his voters would move to Cruz if Kasich dropped out, while less than a third would back the GOP frontrunner Trump. The rest of Kasich’s supporters are undecided.

In a three-way race, Trump has a 14 point lead over second place Cruz, 43-29 percent. Without Kasich in the race, however, the match-up narrows to a 9 point Trump lead, 46-37, with 12 percent undecided. Half of Kasich’s support, 8 points, moves to Cruz, while less than a fifth, 3 points, moves to Trump.

Of course, Politico, using Common Core math, no doubt, interprets this as “Kasich voters prefer Trump.”

Cruz gains more than Trump from Kasich supporters in every demographic category, in fact. The most striking, though, is among the 12 percent of white evangelicals who currently support Kasich. Almost all of them swing to Cruz instead of Trump if Kasich is out of the race.

Politically, Cruz and Kasich have deep political differences, both in philosophy as well as comfort with Washington’s political class. Cruz has based much of his campaign on being opposed to the political establishment. It is unsurprising, then, that more of his supporters would flock to Trump over Kasich, if he were hypothetically out of the race.

That said, the move to Trump from Cruz supporters is smaller than the move of Kasich supporters to Cruz. Just over 40 percent of Cruz supporters move to Trump if the Texas Senator were to drop out of the race, while just over 30 percent move to Kasich. By comparison, 50 percent of Kasich supporters move to Cruz, while only 18 percent move to Trump.

While Trump is in pole-position for the Republican nomination, the Quinnipiac poll exposes serious weakness in a general election campaign. Trump runs worse against both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders than either Cruz or Kasich. Almost one-in-five Republicans say they will not support Trump in November and 54 percent of Independents say they will not support him.

Trump’s unfavorable rating among all voters is 61 percent, the worst of any candidate for President. The second worst, however, is Hillary Clinton. Just over half, 56 percent, of all voters have an unfavorable view of the Democrat frontrunner.

This foreshadows an ugly general election contest. When voters were asked to use one word to describe their reaction to Trump and Clinton winning their party’s respective nominations, the top answer for Hillary was “disaster.” The top answer for Trump? Scared.