Poll: Trump Lead Shrinking Before SC Primary; Cruz Surges To Within 5 Points

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a CNN South Carolina Republican Presidential Town Hall with host Anderson Cooper on February 18, 2016 in Columbia, South Carolina.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

GREENVILLE, SOUTH CAROLINA— Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is seeing a surge in support just one day before voters cast their ballots in the South Carolina Republican Primary, and is now within 5 percentage points of frontrunner Donald Trump, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll.

The poll, conducted Feb. 15-17, shows Trump leading the pack with 28 percent support, followed by Cruz with 23 percent. The gap between establishment rivals Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush has also narrowed significantly, with the two garnering 15 and 13 percent respectively. Tied for last are John Kasich and Ben Carson, having received 9 percent among likely voters.

722  likely voters responded to the post-debate poll, which had a margin of error of 3.6%.

While other polling has shown Trump’s South Carolina lead to be shrinking slightly, the NBC/WSJ/Marist poll is the first survey in months that has shown his comfortable edge to have evaporated into the single digits

Cruz led the way with people who described themselves as “Very conservative” and “Tea Party supporters,” while Trump led the field among “Moderate” and “Conservative” voters.

The Texas Senator is slightly ahead of Trump with both college graduates and people under the age of 45, according to the poll.

In this survey, Trump and Cruz are close among White Evangelical Christians, which is seen as an important voting bloc in South Carolina. Trump leads Cruz 29-26 percent among them.

The survey also polled voters for the Democratic Primary, showing Hillary Clinton having amounted a 28 point lead in The Palmetto State.

Clinton leads Sanders among African Americans 68 percent to 21 percent. Among caucasians, she leads 51-46 percent.

Polling for the South Carolina Democratic Primary has consistently shown Clinton to be up by more than 20 percent.


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