While 60 percent of Republican primary and caucus voters will support the eventual Republican nominee if their candidate is not chosen, according to a Suffolk University/USA Today national poll of likely election voters, a majority of Donald Trump supporters said they would vote for the businessman if he were to lose the nomination and run as a third-party candidate.
Forty percent of Republicans whose favored candidate is not nominated said they will vote for the Democratic nominee, seriously consider a third-party candidate, stay home on Election Day in November, or are undecided.
Democratic Party loyalty was higher among those polled, with 69 percent of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders voters saying that they will support the Democratic nominee regardless of whether their preferred candidate is chosen.
“As the Republican leadership scrambles to organize a unity effort at the July GOP National Convention in Cleveland and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich team up to stop front-runner Trump, we are seeing bipartisan dissatisfaction with convention rules and fairness,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. “Both the RNC and DNC chairs have their hands full this election season.”
Concerns about fairness
On the Republican side, 58 percent of Cruz voters say that if their candidate is not nominated, his opponent will have prevailed fairly, while 21 percent said a Cruz loss would be due to a stacked deck against him.
Trump voters see a Trump loss very differently, as 56 percent said it would be due to a stacked deck, while 20 percent say it would be fair.
And 70 percent of Trump voters also believe that the Republican with the clear lead—even if not the required majority—should get the nomination; 25 percent of the combined Cruz and Kasich voters agreed.
Trump voters favor GOP secession
When Trump primary and caucus voters were asked what they would do if Donald Trump lost the GOP nomination and opted to run as a third-party candidate, they indicated by a 2-1 margin (56 percent to 28 percent) that they would vote for an independent Trump in November.
Among all Republican voters, Trump led with 45 percent, while Cruz was favored by 29 percent, and Kasich by 17 percent, with 8 percent undecided.
Clinton vs. Sanders
On the Democratic side, Clinton leads Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders 50 percent to 45 percent among Democrats and Democratic leaning-voters, with fewer than 5 percent undecided.
Democratic voters were split on the issue of fairness and the role of superdelegates. Fifty-one percent of Clinton voters said that if their candidate loses, it would be fair, while 24 percent said a Clinton loss would be the result of a system unfairly stacked against her. Twenty-eight percent of Sanders supporters would see their candidate’s loss as fair, while 53 percent said his loss would be due to an unfairly stacked system.
A majority of Clinton supporters (52 percent) say Sanders should withdraw if Clinton clinches the nomination before the convention, while 39 percent say he should stay in. Sanders voters see it differently, with 21 percent saying he should withdraw if Clinton clinches and 71 percent saying he should stay in until the convention no matter what.
Prospects for November
Proposed final election matchups show that both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are the weaker nominees for their respective parties, with unfavorable ratings of 54 percent and 61 percent, respectively.
Clinton (50 percent) is favored over Trump (39 percent). However, voters prefer Kasich (46 percent) over Clinton (41 percent) in a result that is within the margin of error. Kasich (43 percent) is in a statistical dead heat with Sanders (44 percent). Sanders (52 percent) has slightly stronger numbers against Trump (37 percent) than does Clinton.