The latest poll ahead of the South Carolina primary finds GOP frontrunner Donald Trump with a commanding 19 point lead over his nearest rival, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
Jeb Bush leads Sen. Marco Rubio for third place. Bush edges Rubio 13 to 12 percent. Ohio Gov. John Kasich is a distant fourth with 8 percent support. Neurosurgeon Ben Carson is last, with 5 percent.
Trump leads the GOP field among every age group. His biggest margins, however, are among seniors and voters older than 55. In 2012, these voters made up over 60 percent of the primary electorate.
Trump’s smallest margin is among voters 18-25. With these voters, Trump leads Cruz by just 6 points, 28-22 percent. Jeb Bush is a very distant third with 11 percent. No other candidate receives double-digit support from young voters. These voters, however, made up just 9 percent of the vote in 2012.
Trump also enjoys a wide lead across all parts of the ideological spectrum. Trump leads Cruz by 15 points among “conservative Republicans,” 35-20. Among “moderate Republicans”, who make up about a quarter of the electorate, Trump has 31 percent, while Rubio has 20, Bush 19 and Kasich 18 percent support.
Trump has a massive lead among “libertarian” Republicans, gaining 59 percent support against 17 percent for Cruz. Libertarians, however, make up a small fraction of the overall primary electorate. Still, it shows that Trump draws significant support from all parts of the Republican tent.
Only among self-identified “tea party Republicans” does the Trump wave hit some rocks. He and Ted Cruz effectively split their votes, with Trump getting 37 percent against Cruz’s 36 percent. Marco Rubio is very far back with just 9 percent support among these voters.
The poll was conducted by the South Carolina House Republican caucus and interviewed just over 1,200 likely primary voters on Thursday and Friday.
The poll provides a good baseline to analyze any impact from Saturday’s GOP debate in Charleston. With only 6 candidates on stage, the debate is likely to feature aggressive interaction among the candidates.