The worst nightmares of the Republican Party were confirmed by a new Marist poll that showed Democrats crushing Republicans if Donald Trump runs as a third-party Independent candidate for president.
According to Marist:
While Clinton, 49%, edges Bush, 43%, by 6 points in a two-way, general election contest, a three-way race with Trump cuts into Bush’s support and gives Clinton, 44%, a 15 point lead over him, 29%. Trump garners 20% in such a contest. When Bill Clinton defeated George H.W. Bush in 1992, he received 43% of the popular vote.
While Clinton retains her support among her Democratic base in a three-way race, Bush’s support among Republicans freefalls from 92% to 63%, a 29 point difference. Trump garners 28% of the GOP vote. Among independents nationally, Clinton’s 6 point edge over Bush, 48% to 42%, more than doubles to 13 points with Trump in the race.
Trump would fracture the Republican Party as a third-party candidate, and destroy any chance of Republican victory in 2016.
What should be more frightening than Trump for Republicans is that Hillary Clinton’s general election polling is looking a lot like President Obama’s. President Obama beat John McCain 53%-46% in 2008, and Mitt Romney 51%-48% in 2012. Currently, Bush is less popular nationally than Romney or McCain, but Clinton is within two points of matching President Obama’s 2012 result. Bush is only at 42% nationally while getting the support of 92% of Republicans. Hillary Clinton has room to grow within her party as she is at 49% with the support of 89% of the Democratic Party. Given these numbers, it is possible to project that Hillary Clinton is on pace to match President Obama’s popular vote percentage. The data also suggests that the Republican Party has gotten smaller, and getting the support of Republicans is not enough to win a presidential election.
Donald Trump would take the internal divisions within the Republican Party to the ballot box if he ran as an Independent, but the takeaway here is that Democrats don’t need Trump to run third-party in order to win. Hillary Clinton leads every Republican candidate polled by at least five points. So far, the advantages that Democrats have enjoyed in recent presidential elections are holding true for 2016.
Republicans go from having a chance to win in 2016 to no chance at all if Donald Trump runs as an Independent.