Americans don’t agree on much in politics these days, but a new poll finds broad majorities in agreement that the front-runners for the Republican and Democratic nominations for president will wind up the winners in the end.
According to a new CNN/ORC Poll out Monday, 84% of voters nationwide think Donald Trump will lead the Republican ticket in November, while 85% say the same about Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.
But the sense of inevitability hasn’t boosted their support among their own parties. Each has the backing of about half of voters: Clinton is the choice of 51% of Democratic voters, while 49% of Republican voters say they would prefer Trump to be their nominee.
For the rest of the Republican side, 25% back Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and 19% support Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Among those not already backing Trump, nearly half say the GOP front-runner is their second choice: 43% of non-Trump voters say that if the candidate they support doesn’t get the nomination, Trump is their backup. About a third choose either Kasich or Cruz and 15% say their second choice is someone other than the remaining three candidates.
Trump also prompts the most enthusiasm of the remaining three candidates: 39% say they will be enthusiastic if he wins the nomination, 21% would feel that way about Cruz and 16% about Kasich. More say they would be dissatisfied or upset with Cruz (45%) or Kasich (39%) than say the same about Trump (33%).
That lack of enthusiasm for the candidates trying to catch Trump may be behind tepid support for the race to even continue. About two-thirds say that Kasich should drop out of the race now that he is no longer able to win the delegates needed to capture the nomination through the primaries and caucuses, a smaller majority of 52% says the same about Cruz.
Trump’s support in the race has remained roughly steady overall since March, but a small gender gap has grown in the last month as Trump’s backing among men has increased. Among women, 43% back Trump, 29% Cruz and 21% Kasich, while men split 54% Trump, 21% Cruz and 18% Kasich. Last month, Trump had 50% support among men and 44% among women.
About half of Republican voters say the GOP is now divided and will remain so in November (49% now, about the same as the 46% who said the same in March). That sentiment is more common among non-Trump supporters. In that group, 60% say the party is divided and won’t be able to unite by November. That figure dips to 37% among Trump’s backers.
Overall, 91% of Republican voters think Trump will ultimately be the party’s nominee. But if no candidate captures a majority of the delegates at stake in primaries and caucuses by the time the final contests are complete June 7, 60% of Republican voters say the delegates should vote for the candidate with the most support in the primaries, 37% for the one they think is the best candidate.
Asked to rate the importance of several factors in choosing a nominee at a contested convention, however, delegates aren’t seen as the only consideration. A third say the candidate’s chances to win in November should be the most important consideration, 25% whether the candidate reflects the values of the Republican Party and 22% how many delegates the candidate has won. Trump supporters are more likely to see delegate count as the most important factor (32% among Trump backers, 13% among others).
Few see a candidate’s vice presidential pick as a top factor, and the one that has emerged thus far, Carly Fiorina, doesn’t appear to sway many voters. About two-thirds of Republican voters say Cruz’s selection won’t make a difference in whether they support him, should he win the nomination, though most, 55%, feel his selection reflects positively on his ability to make important presidential decisions.
On the Democratic side, 51% say Clinton is their top choice for the nomination, 43% Sanders, that’s about the same as in March. And enthusiasm for a Clinton candidacy has grown as her chances of winning enough delegates to become the presumptive nominee have increased. In the new poll, 41% say they would be enthusiastic about her candidacy, up from 34% in March.
But more see the Democratic Party as divided now than said so in March. Overall, 69% say the party is split, up from 59% in March. Nearly a quarter now say the Democratic Party is likely to remain divided through November, up 8 points from 15% in March. Sanders’ backers are more likely to say the Party will remain divided, 31% say so vs. 15% among Clinton supporters.
The CNN/ORC Poll was conducted by telephone April 28 through May 1 among a random national sample of 1,001 adults. The results include interviews with 405 Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents who are registered to vote, as well as 406 Republicans and Republican-leaning independent voters. The results among Democratic voters have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 5 percentage points, it is the same for results among Republican voters.
By Jennifer Agiesta CNN Polling Director