HUFFPOLLSTER: Voters Dump Marco Rubio For Ted Cruz

Donald Trump and Ted Cruz split the states that voted over the weekend.

Ted Cruz is beginning to look like the viable alternative to Donald Trump. His gain is Marco Rubio's loss. And GOP voters are about equally willing to back any of the three. This is HuffPollster for Monday, March 7, 2016.

CRUZ SURGES TO WINS AND NEAR-UPSETS ON SATURDAY - HuffPollster: "Louisiana's Republican primary offered more drama than expected Saturday night, with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) dramatically narrowing the margin after networks had already called the state for Donald Trump. One of the reasons: While Trump won handily among absentee ballots, which were the first to be tallied, Cruz surged among the votes actually cast on Election Day. The pattern isn't an entirely new one. In primaries this year, Trump has underperformed dramatically among late-deciding voters.. In Louisiana, though, the gulf between early and same-day voters is especially wide, and suggests a shift mostly from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)  to Cruz -- marking a change from Super Tuesday, when late deciders broke more evenly among the two….after a disappointing Super Tuesday for Rubio, Cruz is increasingly seen by GOP voters as the most viable alternative to Trump, with those undecided voters falling into place behind him." [HuffPost]

Rubio crashed and burned - Jonathan Bernstein: "The biggest news on Saturday night was that Cruz, who won in Kansas and Maine and finished second to Trump in Louisiana and Kentucky, crushed Marco Rubio everywhere. As for Rubio, it was a drubbing that may prove difficult to recover from. He managed to beat John Kasich for third place in three of the four states and was expected to do well in Puerto Rico on Sunday. But it would appear he has lost conservative voters to Cruz and some moderates to Kasich, and has very little time to get them back. Kasich continued to hurt Rubio, but otherwise had little effect on the race…. If Rubio really is collapsing all over, maybe Kasich can surprise in Michigan on Tuesday. If he somehow combines that with victories in Ohio and Illinois the following week, he’ll be in the ballgame. That’s a whole lot of 'ifs.'" [Bloomberg]

Michigan looks to be a bigger challenge for Cruz - HuffPollster: "After netting wins in Kansas and Maine Saturday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is facing longer odds in one of the next big states to vote, according to polls released Sunday. In NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist and CBS/YouGov polls of Michigan, which votes March 8, Cruz trails Donald Trump by 19 and 15 points, respectively. HuffPost Pollster's average, which includes all publicly available polling, shows him an average 19 points behind. Things could already be changing. Those surveys were both conducted before Saturday's elections, which saw Cruz surging dramatically among late-deciding voters, mostly at the expense of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). But the results also highlight a key difference between states like Michigan and many of the places Cruz has won so far….Cruz has pretty much relied on a conservative base to carry him to victory….Very conservative voters, though, make up a smaller faction in many of the upcoming primary races." [HuffPost]

TRUMP AND CRUZ LEAD IN DELEGATE COUNT - Philip Bump: “It's only the delegates that count. So Ted Cruz may have had the second-biggest margin of victory of the year in Kansas on Saturday, but he only netted the seventh-most delegates of any contest.So, setting aside the winners of states, who actually won on Saturday? On the Republican side, it appears to have been Cruz, whose victory in Maine and narrowing of the contest in Louisiana earned him the most delegates of any Republican. He went into the day trailing Trump by 98 delegates, according to early calculations from Real Clear Politics, and came out trailing him by only 84.” [WashPost]


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GOP VOTERS WOULD PROBABLY SUPPORT ANY NOMINEE - HuffPollster: "Donald Trump's Republican presidential rivals have been vocal about his shortcomings….But, when pressed by a moderator at Thursday night's debate, they all pledged to support Trump should he become the party's nominee. GOP voters, new polling suggests, may end up coming to the same conclusion. Trump is unusually unpopular for a front-runner, FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver points out. To date, exit polling indicates that just 49 percent of voters say they'd be satisfied to see him as the nominee. Rubio and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), though, each fare only slightly better. And Republicans are just as likely to say they would back Trump in a general election as they are to say they would support either Cruz or Rubio, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll conducted before Super Tuesday." [HuffPost] 

Trump represents the views of Republican voters on issues better than Cruz or Rubio -  Tobias Konitzer and David Rothschild: "The GOP establishment is out of touch with its base. Trump actually represents Republicans better if you examine beliefs issue by issue….[O]nly 20 percent of the general population supports a complete abortion ban, even in cases of rape and incest – and only 25 percent of Republican voters do. Cruz and  Rubio advocate this position. Trump breaks with the GOP establishment – and agrees with the nearly 60 percent of Republicans who support the right to abortion in these circumstances….He breaks left to match Republican voters’ beliefs on abortion – and he breaks even further right to match those voters in his extreme positions on on opposing immigration and any pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. In other words, Trump’s apparent hodgepodge of moderate and conservative positions may actually make him a more representative Republican presidential candidate than the establishment candidates we’ve seen in the past eight years" [WashPost]

BERNIE SANDERS GAINS A FEW MORE WINS, WHILE CLINTON CONTINUES TO RACK UP DELEGATES - Amanda Terkel: "Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) had a good night Saturday if you look at the number of states he won. He beat Hillary Clinton in the Kansas and Nebraska caucuses, while Clinton pulled out a win in the Louisiana primary. But Clinton actually came out ahead in the delegate count, with 55 delegates to Sanders' 47. And while Sanders has a good shot at winning the Maine caucuses on Sunday, he needs to start winning bigger -- and in bigger states -- to close the gap with her. Both Clinton and Sanders are already looking ahead not only to Michigan's primary on Tuesday, but the delegate-rich date of March 15, when Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio will be holding their primaries. These states have diverse Democratic electorates, which bodes well for Clinton. She has done significantly better with communities of color, despite the fact that Sanders has been trying to make inroads." [HuffPost]

MONDAY'S 'OUTLIERS' - Links to the best of news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:

-Donald Trump's supporters don't care what Mitt Romney thinks about the election. [HuffPost]

-A new poll reveals that Trump supporters fear a majority-minority America. [WashPost]

-Matthew Yglesias chronicles which candidates gained and lost ground on Super Tuesday. [Vox]

-David Wasserman blames John Kasich for Marco Rubio's losses in Saturday's election. [538]  

-Sixty-three percent of Americans have an unfavorable view of Donald Trump.[Gallup]

-Different media outlets are showing different delegate counts for the Republican primary. [Smart Politics]

-A University of Toronto poll takes advantage of online typos to survey opinion in Bahrain. [WashPost]