Poll: Trump leads GOP field by more than 2-1 margin nationally

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Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpDems flip Wisconsin state Senate seat Sessions: 'We should be like Canada' in how we take in immigrants GOP rep: 'Sheet metal and garbage' everywhere in Haiti MORE holds a more than 2-to-1 advantage over the next closest GOP presidential contender in a new national poll.

According to the Monmouth University survey released on Wednesday, Trump leads the race with 36 percent support nationally. That’s down from 41 percent in the same survey from December, which had marked the highest point he’s reached so far.

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzWith religious liberty memo, Trump made America free to be faithful again Interstate compacts aren't the right way to fix occupational licensing laws Texas Dem: ‘I don’t know what to believe’ about what Trump wants for wall MORE (R-Texas) is a distant second place, taking 17 percent support — a 3-point gain over December.

The rest of the field is largely unchanged, with Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOvernight Cybersecurity: Bipartisan bill aims to deter election interference | Russian hackers target Senate | House Intel panel subpoenas Bannon | DHS giving 'active defense' cyber tools to private sector Senators unveil bipartisan push to deter future election interference Puerto Rico's children need recovery funds MORE (R-Fla.) in third place at 11 percent support, followed by retired neurosurgeon Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonTrump must pair more respectful rhetoric with positive policies Trump honors MLK amid firestorm over racially charged remarks Reporter asks Trump 'Are you a racist?' after MLK event MORE at 8 percent and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at 5 percent.

No other candidate takes more than 3 percent support.

“These results suggest that the GOP race is fairly static on a national level,” said Monmouth polling director Patrick Murray. “We’ll have to wait and see if the Iowa and New Hampshire results shake things up.”

Republicans view Trump as the strongest candidate to take on Hillary Clinton in the general election, with 37 percent saying he has the best shot at defeating the Democratic front-runner, versus 24 percent who said the same of Cruz. Thirty-one percent said the candidates would be equally strong against Clinton.

Trump trounces Rubio on the question of who would do better against Clinton, with 47 percent saying the billionaire businessman is a better general election candidate, versus only 22 percent who said that of Rubio. Only 25 percent said those two would be equally good candidates in a match-up against Clinton.


The poll did not ask about match-ups with Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who has been gaining on Clinton nationally. He remains behind her by more than 11 points, as well as in Iowa, and has been widening his lead in New Hampshire.

“Contrary to many party leaders’ hopes, the electability argument is not going to drag down Trump,” said Murray.

A full 65 percent of Republicans said they believe Cruz, who was born in Canada, is a “natural born citizen” and eligible to serve as president. 

Still, 12 percent said he’s not and 24 percent said they’re unsure, meaning that more than one-third of GOP primary voters harbor some doubts.

Cruz was born to an American mother and Cuban father. Many scholars and legal experts believe that qualifies him to be president under the Constitution’s “natural born citizen” clause.

Trump has sought to make an issue out of Cruz’s Canadian birthplace, but at the last GOP debate Cruz sought to turn the tables by pointing out that Trump’s mother was born in Scotland.

According to the Monmouth survey, 91 percent of Republicans believe Trump is a natural born citizen.

The best news for a low-polling candidate in the survey belongs to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Christie only takes 3 percent support, but he’s managed to turn a negative favorability rating into a positive one. Forty-two of Republicans now view Christie favorably, compared to 33 percent who have a negative view of him.

Bush once again logged the worst favorability rating in the field, at 32 percent positive and 47 percent negative.

The Monmouth University survey of 385 registered Republican voters was conducted between Jan. 15 and Jan. 18 and has a 5-percentage-point margin of error.