West Long Branch, NJ - Texas will be the biggest delegate prize of the primary season so far. The Monmouth University Poll finds home state senator Ted Cruz with a solid lead in the Republican contest there as the GOP candidates prepare for tonight's debate in Houston. Over on the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton appears to be enjoying a significant advantage over her competition.
-- Republican primary --
Ted Cruz currently has the support of 38% of likely GOP primary voters in his home state of Texas. Donald Trump (23%) and Marco Rubio (21%) are battling it out for second place. They are trailed by Ben Carson (6%) and John Kasich (5%).
Cruz has more support among men (44%) than women (33%), while Rubio has more support among women (24%) than men (18%). Trump draws equally from male (22%) and female (23%) voters in the Lone Star State.
Cruz claims 54% support among very conservative voters and 37% support among somewhat conservative voters. He has only 10% support among moderates, but this group comprises just one-fifth of likely GOP voters.
"Cruz looks to be well-positioned in Texas. The challenge for him is that a lot of other states are also on the slate for Super Tuesday," said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.
Texas allows early voting and 18% of those polled report having already cast their vote. Nearly half (44%) of these early voters checked Cruz's name on their ballots. Another 30% of likely Republican voters say they are completely decided on their candidate choice before they head to the polls and 30% have a strong preference but are still open to considering other candidates. One-in-five either have only a slight preference (8%) or are really undecided (13%) just days before Tuesday's election.
Cruz would maintain his double digit lead if the race was down to three candidates, earning 43% in a hypothetical match up against just Rubio (26%) and Trump (23%). He could potentially do even better (49%) if the race was against just Trump (28%) and Kasich (15%).
When Texas Republicans are asked if they would be okay with any of the five remaining candidates becoming the party's nominee, half (50%) say yes and 7% are not sure. Nearly 3-in-10 (28%), though, say they would be upset if Trump won the nomination. Around 1-in-10 or less say they would be upset if Cruz (12%), Kasich (12%), Rubio (8%), or Carson (6%) got the nod.
-- Democratic primary --
Hillary Clinton currently holds a substantial 64% to 30% lead over Bernie Sanders in the Texas Democratic primary. In 2008, Clinton narrowly beat Barack Obama in this state by a 51% to 47% margin.
Clinton currently enjoys solid leads among black (81% to 8%) and Latino (68% to 32%) voters, and also has an edge among white voters (54% to 40%). She has a sizable lead among women (75% to 19%) and a small lead among men (50% to 45%). She leads among voters age 50 and over (75% to 20%) and also leads among those under the age of 50 (52% to 42%) - a group that Sanders has done well with in past primaries. One factor that boosts Clinton's support with all these groups is that nearly 6-in-10 likely Democratic voters in Texas describe themselves as politically moderate or conservative rather than liberal. Sanders tends to do better among liberals.
"Texas was good to Hillary Clinton eight years ago and she looks set to do even better this time around," said Murray.
More than 3-in-4 Lone Star Democrats say that Clinton would do either an excellent (32%) or good (45%) job addressing the most important concerns of families like theirs. This compares to just over half who say the same about Sanders (22% excellent and 33% good).
One-in-five voters (21%) say they have already cast their ballots in the Democratic primary and another 41% say they have completely decided on their candidate choice. A slightly higher number of Clinton voters say they have already voted (24%) or their choice is locked in (44%) when compared to Sanders supporters (18% already voted and 41% completely decided). Another 19% of Democrats have a strong preference but are still open to considering other candidates and 7% have only a slight preference, while 12% say they are still really undecided.
The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from February 22 to 24, 2016 with 456 Texas voters likely to vote in the Republican presidential primary and 304 Texas voters likely to vote in the Democratic presidential primary. The Republican likely primary voter sample has a margin of error of ± 4.6 percent and the Democratic likely primary voter sample has a margin of error of ± 5.6 percent. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.
The questions referred to in this release are as follows:
ASKED OF LIKELY REPUBLICAN PRIMARY VOTERS:
R1. If the Republican primary election for president was today, would you vote for – [NAMES WERE ROTATED]
R2. Which of the following best describes where your decision stands at this moment: I am completely decided on which candidate I will support, I have a strong preference right now but I am willing to consider other candidates, I have a slight preference among a group of candidates I like, or I am really undecided among a number of candidates?
[QUESTIONS R3 & R4 WERE ROTATED]
R3. If it came down to the following three candidates, who would you support – [NAMES WERE ROTATED]
R4. If it came down to the following three candidates, who would you support – [NAMES WERE ROTATED]
R5. Would you be okay with any of the five remaining candidates winning the Republican nomination or would any of them make you unhappy if he became the nominee? Who would you be unhappy with as the Republican nominee? [MULTIPLE RESPONSES ACCEPTED]
ASKED OF LIKELY DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY VOTERS:
D1. If the Democratic primary election for president was today, would you vote for – [NAMES WERE ROTATED]
D2. Which of the following best describes where your decision stands at this moment: I am completely decided on which candidate I will support, I have a strong preference right now but I am willing to consider other candidates, I have a slight preference among a group of candidates I like, or I am really undecided among a number of candidates?
[QUESTIONS D3 & D4 WERE ROTATED]
If elected President…
D3. How good a job would Hillary Clinton do addressing the most important concerns of families like yours – excellent, good, only fair, or poor?
D4. How good a job would Bernie Sanders do addressing the most important concerns of families like yours – excellent, good, only fair, or poor?
The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from February 22 to 24, 2016 with a statewide random sample of Texas voters drawn from a list of registered voters, who participated in a primary election in 2012 or 2014 or voted in both of the last two general elections, and indicate they will vote in the presidential primary on March 1, 2016. Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey design, data weighting and analysis. Final sample is weighted for age and gender based on state registration list information on the pool of voters who participate in primary elections. Data collection support provided by Braun Research (field) and Aristotle (voter list and non-voter sample). The total sample of 760 likely voters includes 440 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 320 contacted by a live interviewer on a cell phone, in English.
For results based on the sample of 456 likely Republican primary voters, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 4.6 percentage points (unadjusted for sample design). For results based on the sample of 304 likely Democratic primary voters, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 5.6 percentage points (unadjusted for sample design). Sampling error can be larger for sub-groups (see table below). In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.
Click on pdf file link below for full methodology and results by key demographic groups.
Download this Poll Report with all tables