Trump holds narrow lead over Kasich in Ohio

posted at 8:21 pm on March 7, 2016 by John Sexton

A poll published Monday by PPP shows Trump holding a narrow lead over Governor John Kasich, but with 31% of respondents saying they haven’t made up their minds yet that lead could change over the next week:

Trump leads with 38% to 35% for Kasich, 15% for Ted Cruz, and just 5% for Marco Rubio. The race is pretty fluid though, with only 69% of voters saying they’re committed to their current choice, and 31% saying they might change their minds between now and next Tuesday.

If voters do change their minds- especially supporters of Cruz and Rubio who appear to have little chance of being competitive in the state- Kasich is likely to be the beneficiary. Kasich leads Trump 55/40 if voters had to choose just between the two of them. Rubio voters move to Kasich 75/16 over Trump, Cruz voters do so 69/25, and undecideds would pick him 54/11 if Kasich and Trump ended up being the two candidates they chose between. Kasich is also by far the most broadly popular of the candidates in Ohio with a 70/22 favorability rating- only Trump at 48/44 is also on positive ground among the remaining candidates. If more strategic voting happens in the next week, Kasich is likely to be the beneficiary.

Based on this poll, it appears unlikely that anyone other than Trump or Kasich can win. And here’s where we once again have a what if scenario in which supporters of different candidates blame their candidates problems on the failure of some other candidate to get out of the race. For instance, it appears that if Rubio were to drop out, 3/4 of his votes would go to Kasich, probably giving him the lead. But nearly the same scenario is playing out in Florida where the most recent poll has Trump up 8 over Rubio, 38-30. In that race, Kasich is the person in 4th place, currently taking 10 percent. So next Tuesday, Rubio could deny Kasich a win in Ohio and Kasich could deny Rubio a win in Florida. In either scenario, Trump is positioned to benefit.

To be fair, the same argument could be leveled at Ted Cruz. Though he has the most delegates after Trump, he appears unlikely to do better than 3rd place in either state but is still doing well enough that he is undoubtedly taking votes away from the two men who are better positioned to win. Ohio is a winner-take-all primary so coming in 3rd place or even 2nd place gets a candidate the same number of delegates: zero. The person who gets a plurality of the vote will pick up 66 delegates.

Final note on this poll. PPP often includes questions in their polls aimed at embarrassing Republicans. You may recall their poll about bombing Agrabah, the mythical home of Aladdin. This week PPP asked about a conspiracy theory involving Justice Scalia’s death which was based on something Trump had said to Alex Jones:

In an interview with Alex Jones last month Trump flirted with the conspiracy theory that Antonin Scalia didn’t die naturally, and we find that only 52% of Trump’s voters do think he died of natural causes compared to 21% who think he was murdered and 27% who are not sure. By comparison 64% of Rubio, 66% of Cruz, and 68% of Kasich voters think Scalia died naturally.

Here’s what PPP doesn’t tell you in the press release but which you can find in the full results:

Scalia cod

Scalia cod 2

I’m not sure that question worked out the way PPP hoped it would.

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