Presidential races

Poll: GOP would lose if Trump ran as an independent

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Donald Trump’s pledge to forgo a third party candidacy is wonderful news for the Republican Party, and new polling figures by Democratic-leaning firm Public Policy Polling quantify the danger the party has avoided. 

{mosads}The latest national poll by PPP finds that Trump would win more support than Jeb Bush in a three-way contest with Hillary Clinton. In that hypothetical race, Trump wins 27 percent to Bush’s 23 percent. In other words, a Trump third-party run hands Hillary Clinton an easy win with 42 percent of the vote, according to PPP. 

Even if Trump had abandoned the Republican Party and competed in the general election as an independent, Bush would still struggle to beat Trump — by 46 percent to 44 percent — among Republican voters, the PPP calculates. Among independents, Trump would score 31 percent to Bush’s 19 percent.

The PPP poll contains more good news for Trump’s rival outsider — retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson. Carson performs strongest of all Republican candidates in a head-to-head match-up with Hillary Clinton. 

Carson, who has surged all the way to second place behind Donald Trump nationally, ties with Clinton at 44 percent and leads Bernie Sanders by 6 percentage points (42 to 36) in a head-to-head. 

Voters like Carson. By the PPP’s reckoning, he is the is only declared candidate with a positive favorability rating. More than 40 percent of American voters view Carson positively, compared with only 30% who view him negatively. By contrast, 55 percent of voters view Clinton unfavorably and 36 percent view her positively. Trump is slightly less disliked than Clinton, with 53 percent of voters viewing him unfavorably. 

Clinton leads all Republicans besides Carson in head-to-head contests, though Trump and businesswoman Carly Fiorina are only 2 percentage points behind the Democratric front-runner. 

Clinton’s standing has improved since the last PPP poll. As recently as Aug. 19, Clinton trailed 8 of 11 Republican contenders in hypothetical match ups. The strongest performers against her then were Carson (47 to 40) and Marco Rubio (45 to 41). Rubio has slipped in the latest poll, losing to Clinton 47 percent to 43 percent. 

Despite Trump’s impressive crowds and national polling figures, Republican strategists have been insisting he is unelectable in a general election. PPP pollsters challenge that theory. In this latest poll, Clinton leads Trump 46 percent to 44 percent, but that falls within the poll’s margin of error. Trump leads the other surging populist in the race — Sanders, the self-identified socialist — 43 to 42 percent.

“It used to look like nominating Donald Trump would be an unmitigated disaster for the Republicans,” said Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling. “But now he’s doing better against Hillary Clinton than a lot of their perceived electable candidates. Meanwhile Ben Carson just continues to show an unexpected level of strength.”

These results come from a PPP survey of 1,254 registered voters in an automated phone and Internet poll taken from Aug. 28-30. The margin of error is 2.8 percentage points, according to the PPP.

Tags Ben Carson Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Jeb Bush
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