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CNN/ORC poll: Trump, Clinton remain on top

Story highlights

  • Donald Trump continues to be the top choice of Republican voters in the race for their party's nomination, according to a new CNN/ORC poll
  • The poll finds little appetite for replacing the delegate leader and front-runner with another candidate at the convention or through a third-party run

Washington (CNN)Donald Trump continues to be the top choice of Republican voters in the race for their party's nomination, according to a new CNN/ORC poll.

The poll finds little appetite for replacing the delegate leader and front-runner with another candidate at the convention or through a third-party run, but most of those opposed to Trump's candidacy continue to pine for another option.
    With the field whittled to just three candidates, 47% of Republicans say they'd most like to see Trump win their party's nomination, about the same as the 49% who said they would be most likely to support him in February.
    Texas Sen. Ted Cruz follows at 31%, with Ohio Gov. John Kasich the preferred choice of 17% of GOP voters.
    Trump tops the enthusiasm race as well, with 40% saying they would be enthusiastic about a Trump candidacy compared with 28% who would be that excited about Cruz and 19% about Kasich.
    All three, along with the remaining two Democratic candidates -- Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders -- will get a chance to make their case to the nation in a CNN forum dubbed "The Final Five" set to air at 8:00 p.m. ET Monday.
    The race for the Democratic nomination also remains fairly steady, according to the poll, with Clinton topping Sanders in that contest.
    The Republican race has been more volatile, as the field of candidates vying to be the GOP's main Trump alternative has shrunk. Some, including 2012 Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, have called for anti-Trump voters within the party to coalesce around whichever candidate offers the best chance to beat Trump in their home state, in the hopes of preventing Trump from gathering the 1,237 delegates necessary to win the nomination. That would leave the nomination unsettled heading in to the Republican Party's national convention in July.
    While the overall findings suggest few Republicans want to replace their party's delegate leader with someone else, those views vary widely based on whether a voter prefers Trump or not.
    Six-in-10 Republican voters overall say that if no candidate wins a majority of delegates to the Republican convention through the primaries and caucuses, delegates should vote for the candidate who had the most support through those votes. That figure stands at 82% among Trump backers, but just 40% among those who do not back Trump.
    Most Republicans say Kasich should end his run for the nomination now that he cannot win a majority of delegates in the primaries (70% overall say so), but that sentiment is even stronger among Trump's backers. More than 8-in-10 Trump supporters, 84%, say Kasich should drop out of the race, but among those who aren't backing Trump, that figure dips to 58%.
    Just 35% overall say they want to see another Republican run as a third party candidate if Trump wins the Republican nomination. Among non-Trump backers, however, 51% want to see another Republican get in the ring as a third party candidate. The non-Trump supporters opposed to such a move say they feel that way more because it would lead to a Democratic win (38%) than because they would be comfortable with Trump leading the Republican ticket (10%).
    One thing Trump's supporters and those who support other candidates can agree on: Broad majorities in both groups say the party's nominee should be one of the three remaining candidates, even if none of them capture those 1,237 delegates.
    Still, few see the road ahead as an easy one for the eventual nominee. Just 8% see the Republican Party as united. That's lower than the 22% of Democrats who felt that way in June 2008 after a long fight between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for that party's nomination. Nearly half of Republicans now -- 46% -- say the party is currently divided and will remain so in November, including 52% of those Republicans who are not backing Donald Trump.
    Democrats are more apt to see their own party as united, 38% say so, while 44% say it's divided now but will unite by November and just 15% feel the party won't be united come November.
    Clinton continues to top Sanders in the race for the Democratic nomination, with 51% saying they'd most like to see the former secretary of state atop the party's ticket in November compared with 44% who want to see Sanders lead the Democrats into November. That's narrower than the 55% Clinton to 38% Sanders margin in late-February, when voters were asked who they would be most likely to support.
    On most of the key demographic divides, the findings of this poll mirror those of most exit polling thus far in the contest, with Clinton faring better among older Democrats and Sanders carrying those under age 50, the two running about evenly among white Democrats while Clinton holds a solid edge among non-whites, and Clinton tops among moderates while Sanders wins the backing of most liberals.
    But the poll also finds Clinton and Sanders about even among women, with Clinton ahead among men. That's different than most other polling on the race. Beyond the sampling error that can affect any representative survey, the Democratic women interviewed in this poll were a bit younger and more white than Democratic women in previous CNN/ORC surveys, which could be the reason that finding seems out-of-step with most other polling on the race.
    Overall, though, Sanders prompts greater enthusiasm among the Democratic electorate than does Clinton at this point. About 4-in-10 say they would be enthusiastic if he were to win the Democratic nomination, compared with 34% who say they would feel that way about Clinton. That difference is driven largely by greater enthusiasm among Sanders own supporters: 72% of Sanders' backers say they would feel enthusiastic if he won the nomination, just 55% of Clinton's backers say the same about her potential nomination.
    Both of the remaining Democratic nominees top Trump by a wide margin in hypothetical general election matchups, Sanders over Trump by 20 points and Clinton over Trump by 12 points. Sanders fares better than Clinton against each of the three remaining Republicans, topping Cruz by 13 points and Kasich by 6. Clinton runs even with Cruz and trails Kasich by 6 points.
    The CNN/ORC Poll was conducted by landline and cellular telephone March 17-20 among a random national sample of 1,001 adults. The results include interviews with 478 Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents who are registered to vote, as well as 397 Republicans and Republican-leaning independent voters. The results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points, it is 4.5 points for the Democratic voters' sample and 5 points for the Republican voter sample.