The latest poll of North Carolina shows Donald Trump with a 9 point lead over second place Sen. Ted Cruz. Trump has 28 percent support, followed by Cruz with 19 percent. Marco Rubio is in third, with 16 percent support.
The poll, conducted by Elon University, is their first poll of the state this year. Elon’s previous poll was conducted at the end of October, when Ben Carson led the field with 31 percent support. Since then, Carson has lost 21 points. He is now fourth with 10 percent. Trump and Cruz have each gained 9 points since October, while Rubio has gained 6 points.
Jeb Bush was last in the most recent poll, with just 4 percent support. The poll that found that, with Bush out of the race, his support splits between Rubio and Trump. In fact, just a third of Bush’s support goes to Rubio, casting doubt on pundits’ assumptions that Rubio solely benefits from Bush’s withdrawal.
Fifteen percent of Republican voters are still undecided.
In hypothetical match-ups, Hillary Clinton defeats Trump by 6 points, is tied with Cruz and loses to Rubio by 3 points. Bernie Sanders defeats Trump by a larger margin, 8 points. Sanders also defeats Cruz by 4 points, but runs 3 points behind Rubio.
Clinton leads Sanders for the Democrat nomination by 10 points. In the last poll, at the end of October, she led Sanders by 33 points.
The Republican poll interviewed 733 likey voters and has a margin of error of 3.6 percent. The poll testing hypothetical general election match-ups interviewed 1,530 likely voters and has a margin of error of 2.5 percent.
North Carolina votes on March 15, two weeks after the Super Tuesday contests. That date also features several other large states, including Florida, Illinois, Missouri and Ohio.