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Monday, February 29, 2016

What America Thinks: How Far Can Trump Go?

Heading into today’s “Super Tuesday” primaries and caucuses, Donald Trump is the clear Republican front-runner. The GOP establishment is far from happy about that, in large part because Trump’s not a business-as-usual Republican. We decided to find out what America thinks.

The Republican Party has been losing critical electoral support among women and younger voters because of its conservative positions on social issues like abortion and gay marriage. But then Trump defended Planned Parenthood in a GOP debate last week and isn’t even considered a conservative by most Republicans. Yet in the South Carolina primary and the Nevada caucus, he was able to defeat more outspokenly conservative candidates like Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz among conservative and evangelical voters. Will that trend continue today?

If Trump makes it to the general election versus likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, this could make a critical difference. When it comes to social issues like abortion, gay marriage and Church-state topics, Clinton holds a 44% to 38% trust advantage over Trump among all voters. But a sizable 18% are undecided. In addition, our surveys and others have shown that younger voters are suspicious of Clinton, a suspicion that has helped fuel Bernie Sanders’ early challenge of the former first lady.

Democrats will find it a lot harder to pigeonhole Trump as the typical social conservative Republican, and that, along with unhappiness with Clinton, may make this race a lot more competitive than many originally predicted.

For Rasmussen Reports, I’m Alex Boyer. Remember, if it’s in the news, it’s in our polls.