The Polls Trump Hasn't Won

March 10, 2016

The rules of political proportionality can be kind, as they were Tuesday to Sen. Bernie Sanders. The Vermonter’s margin of victory over Hillary Clinton in Michigan was slight, 49.8% to 48.3%. But because his vote was spread over more congressional districts, he walked away with 65 delegates to her 58. Still, Mrs. Clinton expanded her lead by winning Mississippi 82.6% to Mr. Sanders’s 16.5%, netting 29 delegates to his four. She now holds 760 elected delegates to his 546.

On the Republican side, Donald Trump took a plurality of the delegates available Tuesday, winning 71. Sen. Ted Cruz came away with 56, Gov. John Kasich 17, and Sen.Marco Rubio zero. Mr. Trump now has 458 delegates. His opponents’ delegates, plus those who are uncommitted to a candidate, total 598.

In the lead with 34.9% of the votes cast so far, The Donald is increasingly talking about the general election, claiming he’s “won many polls, as you know, against Hillary Clinton.” That’s not true. In the Real Clear Politics average of national head-to-head matchups, Mrs. Clinton leads Mr. Trump by 6.3 percentage points, winning 47.3% to his 41%. In the 49 national polls since the beginning of last May, he led her in five, was tied in two, and lost 42.

Mr. Trump is the only remaining GOP candidate who has never led Mrs. Clinton in the Real Clear average. By comparison, Mr. Kasich is ahead by 7.4 points, 47.7% to 40.3%; Sen. Marco Rubio is up by four points, 48% to 44%; and Sen. Ted Cruz leads by 0.8 points, 46.2% to 45.4%.

Polls suggest the celebrity hotelier would have difficulty in critical battleground states. In the Real Clear average, Mr. Trump trails Mrs. Clinton in New Hampshire by 7.5 points and North Carolina by one point. Worse, the latest polls suggest his position may be deteriorating. He loses North Carolina by six points in a Feb. 17 survey by Elon University; Virginia by 17 points in a Jan. 26 Roanoke College survey; and Iowa by 8 points in a Jan. 7 poll by NBC/The Wall Street Journal/Marist.

The Republican front-runner does have some bright spots. In Florida he’s tied with Mrs. Clinton in the Real Clear average. In Ohio, he leads Mrs. Clinton by two points in a Feb. 20 Quinnipiac survey, and in Colorado by 11 points in a Nov. 18 Quinnipiac poll.

Could The Donald offset losses in traditional battleground states by winning blue-collar states that Democrats carried in recent elections? There is reason to doubt it.

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