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Poll: Trump leads but Kasich gains ground

Donald Trump remains the top pick of Republicans and Republican-leaning voters nationally, but Ohio Gov. John Kasich has gained the most ground.
Republican Presidential Candidates Attend NY GOP Gala In New York City (Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty)
Republican Presidential candidate John Kasich speaks with the media before the 2016 annual New York State Republican Gala on April 14, 2016 in New York City. 

Donald Trump remains the top pick of Republicans and Republican-leaning voters nationally, but Ohio Gov. John Kasich has gained the most ground, according to the latest NBC News|SurveyMonkey Weekly Election Tracking poll.

Trump remains at 46 percent support this week, unchanged from last week. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz dropped 2 points from last week and now has 28 percent support. Kasich has 19 percent support, up 3 points from last week. Kasich’s rise, while modest, still gives him the highest support he has had since the start of the tracking poll.

The poll was conducted online from April 11 to April 17 among 13,020 adults aged 18 and over.

For the most part, the demographics of the electorate have not played a critical role in the Republican primaries this season. However, some groups have been important to particular candidates. Trump, for example, has done very well among those without college degrees. This has important implications in the New York primary. In the previous Republican primaries, 16 percent of voters have an education level of high school or less, according to the NBC News Exit poll. According to results from the NBC News Exit Poll in the 2008 New York Republican primary, 25 percent of the electorate had an education level of high school or less.

Nationally, 56 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaners with an education level of high school or less support Trump this week, down 3 points from last week when 53 percent of that group said they supported him, according to the tracking poll. Cruz gets 27 support among that group, and Kasich gets 11 percent support.

White evangelicals have also been an important group throughout the primary season, making up 50 percent of Republican primary voters so far. In New York, however, there are fewer white evangelicals than the previous contests this year. In 2008, white evangelicals made up 15 percent of the New York Republican primary electorate, according to NBC News Exit Poll results. Overall, Trump and Cruz have done well among white evangelicals in the 2016 primary contests so far.

Trump has 44 percent support among white evangelicals in our tracking poll this week. That number held steady from last week. Cruz has 38 percent support among that group, down 2 points from last week. Kasich got a boost among white evangelicals this week and now has 16 percent support, up from 10 percent. The significant difference in the number of white evangelicals in New York compared to prior states could hurt Cruz, who has consistently done well among white evangelicals. 

While there was not a lot of change in the national numbers this week, the changing composition of the electorate in every state makes it important to examine key subgroups. The subgroups important in Tuesday’s New York Republican primary suggest that Trump is poised to do well. Kasich’s rise is also born out in our national poll, and it will be interesting to see how this translates into votes in the contest.  

The NBC News|SurveyMonkey Weekly Election Tracking poll was conducted online April 11 through April 17, 2016 among a national sample of 13,020 adults aged 18 and over, including 11,498 who say they are registered to vote. Respondents for this non-probability survey were selected from the nearly three million people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey platform each day. Results have an error estimate of plus or minus 1.3 percentage points. For full results and methodology for this weekly tracking poll, please click here.