Hot off the presses, a new national poll from McClatchy/Marist shows a statistical tie between Trump and Cruz, with Trump registering at 40% and Cruz at 35% nationally. Also John Kasich exists. The margin of error is +/- 4.7 points.
As always, it’s not entirely clear how relevant national polls are at this point in the game. The majority of the country has already voted, including all of the Deep South, which turned out to be Trump’s best territory, so it’s not clear whether this particular poll has any predictive value at all, even if we accept that the pollsters do not suck worse than usual this year.
The interesting thing about this poll is that it purports to message test the various scenarios for the increasingly likely contested convention.
A majority of Republicans and Republican leaning independents nationally do not want a contested convention. 52% report that if businessman Donald Trump has the most delegates going into the convention in Cleveland but does not have enough to win on the first ballot, he should still be the party’s nominee. 40% say the GOP should nominate someone else. If the Republican Party decides to nominate someone other than Trump, nearly two in three Republicans and Republican leaning independents, 65%, say the nominee should be a candidate who ran in this year’s primaries. 29% think it is acceptable for the nominee to be a Republican who did not run.
Obviously, the 40% of Trump supporters think that he should be the nominee if he gets the most delegates. It appears that his message of “I should win if I have the most delegates” is persuasive (right now) to an additional 12% of Republican voters. A slim majority, but not exactly revolt territory if Trump does not emerge the victor. Still, Cruz would do well to substantially narrow the gap between now and the convention, if he can.
On the other hand, if the GOP does do something stupid like trying to follow Joe Scarborough’s advice and nominate Paul Ryan, it would probably be a catastrophe of biblical proportions, which the delegates will surely know.
At the end of the day, they are going to be choosing between two undesirable scenarios, and I’m betting that the scenario that involves Donald Trump actually running for President under the Republican banner will be sufficiently terrifying to throw the nomination to someone else.