Donald Trump holds a 15-point lead over Ted Cruz in the potentially decisive May 3 presidential primary race in Indiana, according to results from a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll.
Trump gets support from 49 percent of likely Republican primary voters — followed by Cruz at 34 percent and John Kasich at 13 percent. If that margin in Indiana holds on Tuesday, Trump would be on a glide path towards obtaining the 1,237 delegates he needs to win the Republican nomination on a first ballot at the GOP convention in July.
In the Hoosier State’s Democratic contest, Hillary Clinton leads Bernie Sanders by just four points, 50 percent to 46 percent.
“In Indiana, Trump is positioned to corral all the [state’s 57] delegates, which will be a big prize toward winning the nomination outright,” says Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “Clinton and Sanders are more likely to divide the delegate pool, which will do little to change the narrative on the Democratic side.”
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The NBC/WSJ/Marist poll was conducted April 26-28 — so mostly after Trump’s six-consecutive primary victories in Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, as well as after Cruz and Kasich announced an alliance/truce, whereby Kasich wouldn’t campaign in Indiana to help Cruz (in exchange for Cruz not campaigning in Oregon and New Mexico).
But 58 percent of likely Republican primary voters in Indiana say they disapprove of Cruz and Kasich teaming up to beat Trump in the Hoosier State, while 34 percent say they approve of the move.
What’s more, only 22 percent consider the Cruz-Kasich alliance a major factor in deciding their vote, 15 percent say it’s a minor factor and 63 percent say it would play no factor at all.
In a hypothetical general-election matchup, Trump is ahead of Clinton by seven points among registered voters in this traditionally Republican state, 48 percent to 41 percent.
But Trump’s lead is just one point when matched up against Bernie Sanders, 47 percent to 46 percent.
Meanwhile, Cruz also is ahead of Clinton by seven points (50 percent to 43 percent), while Kasich leads the former secretary of state by 19 (56 percent to 37 percent).
Kasich beats Sanders by one point (47 percent to 46 percent), but Sanders leads Cruz by three (48 percent to 45 percent).
The NBC/WSJ/Marist poll of Indiana was conducted by live-caller interviews (via landline and cell phone) among 2,149 registered voters (which has a margin of error of plus-minus 2.1 percentage points), 645 likely Republican primary voters (plus-minus 3.9 percentage points) and 449 likely Democratic primary voters (plus-minus 4.6 percentage points).
Mark Murray is a senior political editor at NBC News.