Presidential races

Trump touts new poll showing appetite for third-party bid

Donald Trump is touting a new poll that shows a strong majority of his supporters would abandon the Republican Party to support him if he launched a third-party bid.

Trump tweeted out a link to a USA Today-Suffolk University poll shortly after it was released on Tuesday.

The poll illustrates a nightmare scenario for the GOP, as many believe Trump would siphon off enough of the Republican vote to doom the party’s presidential hopes.

{mosads}Trump has signed a pledge not to run a third-party campaign and has said he’ll support whomever the eventual GOP nominee is — if he believes the party treats him fairly in the process.

But on Monday night, Trump ignited a firestorm of controversy for saying that Muslims should be barred from entering the country.
Party leaders, lawmakers and Trump’s rivals for the GOP presidential nomination have been almost unanimous in rebuking the proposal, including Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Democrats though have delighted in the headache Trump is causing the Republican Party.

The USA Today-Suffolk University survey found that 68 percent of Trump’s supporters said they would stick with him should he run for the White House as an independent.

Only 18 percent of Trump’s supporters said they would reconsider their support if he left the party.

The poll was conducted before Trump made the remarks, although a Public Policy Polling survey released Tuesday found that Trump’s supporters largely agree with his rhetoric on Islam.

Meanwhile, the new poll found Trump taking 27 percent and holding a double-digit lead over the rest of the GOP field.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) came in second place at 17 percent support, followed by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) at 16 percent. Both freshman senators were only pulling single-digit support in the previous poll from late September.

Ben Carson has fallen 3 points from the previous poll and now sits in fourth place nationally at 10 percent support.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has seen his support cut in half, from 8 percent to 4 percent, and no other candidate takes more than 2 percent support.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton holds a big lead nationally, taking 56 percent support over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I), who is at 29 percent support.

The poll found a close race for the White House, with Clinton leading Trump by 4 points, while edging Cruz by 2 points and Carson by 1 point in hypothetical head-to-head match-ups. Rubio is the only Republican who would beat Clinton, leading her by 3 points in the poll.

The USA Today-Suffolk poll of 1,000 likely voters was conducted between Dec. 2 and Dec. 6 and has a 3 percentage-point margin of error.

The surveys of 363 likely Democratic voters and 357 likely Republican voters have 5 percent margins of error.

This story was updated at 3:53 p.m.

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