Republican front runner Donald Trump has maintained a significant lead over rivals within his party for a long time; now, an overwhelming majority of his supporters say that they would vote for him even if he ditched the GOP and ran as an independent.
The new poll, taken by USA Today and Suffolk University, found that Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida all polled with strong numbers, while all other GOP candidates have declined or remained stagnant. Cruz received 17 percent support, while Rubio received 16 percent. Both had previously been polling in the single digits.
Former neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who was previously a close runner up to Trump, has been gradually losing support. In this poll, he lost three points and polled at 10 percent.
Numerous surveys have shown that Trump has garnered a tremendous number of supporters, but now 68 percent of them say that they would vote for the real estate mogul if he ran as an independent instead of a Republican, while only 18 percent said that they would not support him in that situation.
With only three candidates, the race for the Democrats is smaller, as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has increased her lead over Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont by 56 percent to 29 percent. Ever since Vice President Joe Biden officially announced that he will not run, Clinton has gained 15 points, while Sanders gained six. Former Gov. Martin O'Malley of Maryland climbed from zero percent support to four percent.
Clinton is the strongest candidate in the poll's hypothetical match ups, as voters preferred her to all candidates except for Rubio, who beat her by three points.
The survey was taken before Trump's most recent round of comments about Muslims got him in hot water with the media, after he called for a "complete and total shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on," he said on Dec. 8, according to the New Yorker.