Trump now up 21 points over closest competitor, Cruz
© Greg Nash

Republican candidate Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump reshapes the lower federal courts with little progressive scrutiny Trump regrets decision to fire Flynn: report Trump says tape bluff was to keep Comey honest MORE added 3 points in a new CNN/ORC International poll released early Wednesday to expand his commanding lead over the GOP presidential field.

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Trump now has the support of 39 percent of Republicans independents who lean Republicans.

Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzWill Republicans stand up to the NRA's insurrection rhetoric? Rocky rollout for Senate healthcare bill Overnight Healthcare: Latest on Senate healthcare bill | Four conservatives say they'll oppose | Obama slams bill | Health groups offer scathing criticism MORE (R-Texas) strengthened his second-place standing, adding 2 points since a similar poll in early December. He currently has 18 percent support.

Ben Carson and Sen. Marco RubioMarco RubioWill Republicans stand up to the NRA's insurrection rhetoric? The Hill's Whip List: Senate ObamaCare repeal bill Ivanka Trump turns to House GOP on paid family leave MORE (R-Fla.), who both saw their support fall in the new national poll, are tied for third, with 10 percent apiece.

No other GOP contender had more than 5 percent support.

Trump is widely seen as the candidate most capable of handling the major issues facing the nation today.

A strong majority, 57 percent, said the billionaire businessman would be the best Republican primary contender to deal with the economy. His closest competitors are Cruz at 8 percent and Rubio at 7 percent.

Fifty-five percent also said they trust Trump most on illegal immigration, followed by Cruz at 15 percent and Rubio at 10 percent.

And despite never holding elected office, 47 percent said Trump would be preferred as commander in chief in the ongoing fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The poll also found that Trump's support is largely comprised of non-college-educated voters. Among those without a degree, 46 percent back Trump, while only 27 percent of graduates said they support his candidacy.

The poll of 1,018 adults was conducted Dec. 17 to Dec. 21, following the last GOP debate on Dec. 15 in Las Vegas. It has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

--Bradford Richardson contributed to this report, which was updated at 7:48 a.m.