One of the biggest uncertainties surrounding Trump’s candidacy is what will happen if and when he makes it to the general election. Will Republicans outside of his notoriously loyal followers support him? Will nonpartisans flock to him in the way that he claims? Spoiler: the numbers aren’t promising (for him at least).
Looking at Figure 1, we see that only 64% of Republican primary voters can see themselves voting for Trump in the general election, while 15% would prefer Clinton. 17% would vote for someone else. We are hard pressed to imagine a scenario where Trump wins the deeply blue state of New York while losing 15% of Republican support to Clinton AND causing another 4% of Republicans to stay at home.
Clearly things aren’t looking good for Donald, but where exactly is he losing support? Figure 2 shows the answer: just about everywhere. More Kasich supporters would vote for Hillary Clinton than for Donald Trump. Let that sink in for a second. And not only more for Clinton, but 39% of them would vote for someone else or just not turn out at all. This should be especially troubling for Trump since Kasich supporters tend to be the most moderate of the bunch, making them the most representative of the nonpartisans in the general electorate.
But come on. So Trump doesn’t do well among moderates. That’s hardly surprisingly, since those types generally don’t spring for the type of messaging Trump seems to be pushing. Surely he’ll pick back up among the more conservative Cruz supporters, right? Nope. Interestingly enough, only 48% of New York Cruz supporters would vote for Trump. Not even half. 32% would go for someone else entirely and 14% would vote for Clinton. The situation looks pretty grim if Cruz supporters stick to their guns and vote for the GOP’s nemesis over Trump.
So it really looks like the only strong support Trump will have in a general election will come from his current primary supporters (clocking in at 96% of them by the way). The media was wrong in missing Trump’s rise and wrong in underestimating his durability, but it increasingly looks like they are wrong again about Trump’s momentum moving past a select portion of the Republican primary electorate.
Analysis derived from poll taken 4.11.16 – 4.14.16. Full Results and Methodology.