Poll: GOP Race Narrows As Trump Campaign Stumbles

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to guests during a campaign stop at Memorial High School on April 2, 2016 in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

The latest national poll from IBD/TIPP shows the Republican contest narrowing, with frontrunner Donald Trump leading his two remaining challengers by just 7 points.

Trump has 38 percent support from Republicans nationwide, followed by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz with 31 percent. Ohio Gov. John Kasich is third with 20 percent support.

The IBD/TIPP poll is noteworthy for two reasons. First, it was the most accurate pollster in the 2012 Presidential race. Its poll, also, was the only national poll conducted after a series of unforced errors related to perceptions of the Trump campaign’s tone, temperament and certain policy positions.

In the IBD/TIPP poll from March, Trump held an 11-point lead over Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, with Cruz a very close third. Kasich, at the time, was far back in the pack with just 7 percent support. Since then, Trump has gained just 7 points in support, growing from 31 to 38 percent. Cruz has gained 11 points, from 20 to 31 percent, while Kasich has gained 13, rising from 7 to 20.

The overwhelming support of candidates who dropped out of the race in March went to Cruz and Kasich, not Trump.

Indeed, when first and second choices are combined, Cruz leads Trump by a wide margin, 63-49. In March, Trump led Cruz as the 1st or 2nd choice, 42-39.

Trump dominates the Republican field in the Northeast, where primary elections will be concentrated in April. In that region he leads second-place Kasich by 32 points. Trump has a healthy 7 point lead in the South, which has finished its primary voting. Trump and Cruz are essentially tied in the Midwest, while Cruz leads in the West by 8 points.

Among men, Trump leads Cruz by 11 points. His lead among women is just 3 points, however, within the polls’ margin of error. Interestingly, though, Trump leads among single women by 15 points, while losing married women. His overall support among women has dropped from March, though.

Cruz dominates among younger voters. He leads Trump by 20 points among voters 25 and younger. Trump, however, has a 17 point lead with voters older than 65.

These, and other, demographic breakdowns are largely consistent with polling and exit polling throughout the primary season. Trump has, however, lost overall support among women and has shed considerable support among younger voters. His drops in support in these two demographics is noteworthy as it has come as three major candidates have left the race.

This latest poll highlights what remains a central obstacle to Trump’s campaign. He still hasn’t consolidated support in the way frontrunners usually have by this point. He has solidified a strong plurality of support, but isn’t yet showing signs of moving it to an outright majority.

Trump continues to lag the other two candidates in a hypothetical match-up with Hillary Clinton. The GOP frontrunner trails Clinton by 12 points. Cruz trails by just 5, while Kasich leads Clinton by 7. Historically, the candidate on the cusp of winning the party’s nomination does better against the likely Democrat nominee than his challengers. This year, however, Trump is running 7-19 points behind his Republican challengers.

Trump’s missteps on the campaign trail haven’t cost him the lead in the Republican primary. They, however, have blocked him from cementing his nomination by attracting closer to a majority of support.

As the campaign turns to the Northeast later this month, where Trump dominates, a string of primary wins may push that consolidation. It is the last ingredient Trump needs to secure the Republican nomination.