The Republican party is deeply divided over the candidacy of Donald Trump, who still holds a national lead over his primary opponents, according to a poll released Tuesday, but even those who are dissatisfied with the billionaire oppose efforts by party leaders to halt his ascendance.
The divisive nature of Trump’s candidacy is evidenced by the fact that 51% of Republican or Republican-leaning independent registered voters in a Washington Post-ABC poll said they would be satisfied with him as their nominee, but a greater percentage of voters said they would be happy with each of the other candidates. Sixty-five percent of voters said they would be satisfied with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz as their nominee, 62% would be satisfied with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, and 56% would be satisfied with Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
A narrow majority of voters surveyed (51%) said they oppose efforts by some Republican party leaders to prevent Trump from becoming the nominee. Just 43% said they support party leaders in that effort. Some members of the GOP establishment have spoken out against Trump in recent weeks, strategizing about how best to stop him from achieving the party nomination.
The poll shows their efforts haven’t been as effective as they would have hoped. Trump received the support of 34% of registered Republicans and Republican-leaning independents. Meanwhile, Cruz received 25% support from that group, Rubio received 18% and Kasich received 13%.
However, Trump’s lead over Cruz has narrowed since voting contests began. The mogul held a 16-point lead over the senator in January.
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton has the support of 49% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, while Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has the support of 42%. She leads by the smallest margin in a Washington Post-ABC poll since the campaign began after holding a 19-point lead in January.
The poll, conducted between March 3 and March 6 , surveyed 1,000 people, 864 of whom are registered voters, and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.