AFTER GOING 3 FOR 4 TUESDAY, WINNING 71 DELEGATES. DONALD TRUMP RECEIVES MORE GOOD NEWS IN POLLS IN UPCOMING VITAL, WINNER TAKE ALL STATES.
Poll: Donald Trump widens lead over John Kasich in Ohio Republican primary
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Ohio Gov. John Kasich is failing to close the gap between him and Donald Trump among GOP primary voters in his own state, according to a new poll.
And in a particularly concerning sign for Kasich, the new Quinnipiac University poll, released Wednesday, suggests he is not gaining on Trump even as voters abandon other GOP candidates in the lead up to Ohio's March 15 primary.
The poll of likely Ohio Republican primary voters found Trump leading Kasich 38 percent to 32 percent. That's compared to Trump's 31 percent to 26 percent lead in the university's last poll, released on Feb. 23.
Compared to two weeks ago, the new survey shows Trump and Kasich more or less splitting voters as Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz lost ground. Rubio's support dropped from 13 percent to 9 percent, and Cruz's support dropped from 21 percent to 16 percent. The new poll also omits retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson who had polled at 5 percent in February, but who has since suspended his campaign.
In perhaps a silver lining for Kasich though, 27 percent of respondents to the new poll said they might change their mind before election day. In Michigan's GOP primary on Tuesday, exit polling showed Kasich pulling down the most support of people who decided whom to support in the last days before the election. And Quinnipiac officials said Kasich has one of highest job approval ratings of any governor among the nine states in which the university conducts polls.
The Quinnipiac poll surveyed 685 likely Ohio Republican primary voters, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points. It was conducted between March 2 and March 7.
The top-line findings from Quinnipiac University more or less mirror the findings of a new poll from CNN/ORC, also released Wednesday, which shows Trump leading Kasich in Ohio 41 percent to 35 percent. The poll found Cruz in third place with 15 percent, and Rubio in fourth with 7 percent.
After finishing in a narrow third in the Michigan GOP primary on Wednesday to Rubio's fourth place finish, Kasich could be emerging as the GOP establishment's latest alternative to Cruz or Trump. That distinction may be of little value though, particularly if he loses Ohio.
Kasich has said he will drop out of the race if he loses in his home state to Trump. Even if he stays in the race, there's been no sign of a more mainstream Republican candidate gaining clear momentum.
"If I don't win Ohio and Trump wins Ohio, then I think it's ballgame over," Kasich told cleveland.com reporters and editors in a March 4 conference call. "It looks like he's going to win Florida."
Ohio is of particular strategic importance to the "Stop Trump" movement, a coalition of Republican establishment figures and others that hopes to block the bombastic celebrity businessman from obtaining the 1,237 delegates needed to secure the nomination and force a contested July convention in Cleveland.
Another Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday shows Trump widening his lead over Sen. Marco Rubio in Florida, another key winner-takes-all state in the strategy to deny Trump the nomination.
That poll showed Trump winning 45 percent to Rubio's 22 percent. Rubio, the Florida Republican, has dropped in the polls lately, leading to speculation that he may drop out of the race soon to avoid the politically embarrassing scenario of losing big in his home state.
Like Ohio, Florida will hold its primary election on March 15.