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New US Presidential Poll Throws Doubt on Trump National Lead

  • Ken Bredemeier

Billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump is lagging behind Texas Senator Ted Cruz in the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll of Republican voters.

In the survey — which contrasts sharply with other national polls — Cruz received 28 percent of the vote, narrowly leading Trump at 26 percent. Trailing behind were Florida Senator Marco Rubio at 17 percent, Ohio Governor John Kasich at 11 percent, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson at 10 percent and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush at 4 percent.

The poll, taken after Trump's New Hampshire primary win, diverged sharply from last month's NBC/WSJ survey in which Trump led Cruz by 33 percent to 20 percent.

It also diverged from an earlier Quinnipiac University national poll that showed Trump with 39 percent support, followed by 19 percent for Rubio, 18 percent for Cruz and other Republicans even further back.

Despite the signs of weakening support for Trump, he appears to still enjoy a strong lead in South Carolina. Tuesday's CNN/ORC poll showed Trump with 38 percent support ahead of Republican voting in the Southeastern U.S. state, a 16-percentage-point advantage over Cruz and wider leads over the other four remaining candidates.

Democratic race

In the Democratic presidential race, a CNN poll showed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, locked in a tight race ahead of Saturday's party caucuses in the Western state of Nevada, best known as the U.S. gambling hub.

The survey showed Clinton edging Sanders, 48 percent to 47 percent, in a state where the country's onetime top diplomat once held a commanding lead.

Quinnipiac said Clinton was also narrowly ahead nationally over Sanders, by a 44-42 margin, as both parties head to a large number of state-by-state party nominating contests in the next month..

Meanwhile, a CNN survey in South Carolina, where Democrats are holding a primary election February 27, showed Clinton with a large lead over Sanders, 56 percent to 38 percent.

A Quinnipiac polling official, Tim Malloy, said, "Reports of Donald Trump's imminent demise as a candidate are clearly and greatly exaggerated. Like a freight train barreling through signals with his horn on full blast, Trump heads down the track towards a possible nomination."

He cautioned, however, "There is a 'but.' Trump's raw numbers are formidable, but he trails the pack on some 'from the gut' character measurements," such as the finding that Bush leads the Republican field as the top choice among party voters who value government experience as the most important characteristic.

"Senator Bernie Sanders and Secretary Hillary Clinton are neck and neck," Malloy said. "But while Bernie has the trust, Hillary has the experience. Two different measurements of two dissimilar candidates."

A previous Quinnipiac poll earlier this month had Trump leading with 31 percent. Since then, he easily won last week's New Hampshire primary and three of his opponents dropped out of the race.

Kasich finished second in New Hampshire and saw a bump in his support in the latest survey from 3 percent to 6 percent. Bush, the son and brother of two former U.S. presidents, rose slightly to 4 percent.

Democrats signaled they believe Clinton has a better shot at taking the November general election, with 83 percent saying she has a good chance to win and 69 percent saying Sanders has a good chance.

The Quinnipiac poll showed just over half of Republicans have settled on a candidate and 45 percent may still change their minds. Two-thirds of Democrats have chosen their candidate.

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