Super Tuesday's primaries put hundreds of delegates at stake. Religion looms large, especially in the South. And national polls show Donald Trump rising among Republican voters. This is HuffPollster for Monday, February 29, 2016.
WHAT’S AT STAKE ON SUPER TUESDAY - On March 1, Democrats will award 880 delegates from 11 states, plus an additional 28 abroad and from American Samoa. Republicans will award 661 delegates from 11 states. While polls have done reasonably well so far,, there's not a lot of polling to go on for many of these states, especially outside of Texas, Georgia and Virginia.
The biggest prizes for the GOP are Texas, Georgia and Tennessee - HuffPollster: "Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton holds a massive lead over rival Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) heading into Super Tuesday -- the day the greatest number of states hold primary elections -- according to a set of three new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist polls of Georgia, Tennessee and Texas. On the Republican side, Donald Trump is making a strong showing in Georgia and Tennessee while Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) leads in his home state….HuffPost Pollster shows similar leads for Trump in Georgia and Cruz in Texas. Not enough recent polling has been conducted in Tennessee to draw any projection." [HuffPost]
Most delegates at stake for Democrats in Texas, Georgia and Massachusetts - HuffPost Pollster’s averages show considerable leads for Clinton in two of the three biggest states for Democrats. She leads in Texas, with 60 percent to Sanders’ 34 percent, and by an even bigger margin in Georgia, with 64 percent to Sanders' 31 percent. Polls in Massachusetts, though, suggest a closer race. While there's too little data to be certain, the HuffPost Pollster average shows Clinton just slightly ahead.
Appealing to religious groups matters in many Super Tuesday states - Michael Lipka: "Religious groups rarely vote as a fully unified bloc….But looking at the religious makeup of individual states, and at each party’s potential voters within a particular state, can still help in understanding the electoral landscape….Republicans in general tend to place a higher level of importance on religion than do Democrats, and this holds true across the Super Tuesday states. Two-thirds of Republicans and those who lean toward the GOP in these states (66%) say religion is very important to them, compared with 53% of Democrats....Overall, nearly half of all people in the 12 Super Tuesday states who identify as or lean toward the Republican Party (47%) are evangelical Protestants….Among Democrats, people with no religious affiliation are the largest group in three of the 11 states that will vote Tuesday." [Pew]
White Christians dominate in the GOP - Robert Jones: "Republicans’ key base of white Christians is well represented across the Super Tuesday states. Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of Republicans in all Super Tuesday states are white Christians. In fact, a majority of Republicans in every Super Tuesday state identify as white Christian….In comparison, Democrats in Super Tuesday states are much more religiously diverse, with Democrats more than half as likely as Republicans to identify as white Christian. A plurality (42 percent) of Democrats in the Super Tuesday states identify as non-white Christians, with 30 percent identifying as white Christians." [PRRI]
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TRUMP REACHES NEW HIGH NATIONALLY - Jennifer Agiesta, on a new CNN/ORC poll: “Trump has expanded his lead over the diminished field to capture the support of nearly half of Republican voters…[T]he new survey finds Trump's lead is dominant, and his support tops that of his four remaining opponents combined. The businessman tops his nearest competitor by more than 30 points: 49% back Trump, 16% Marco Rubio, 15% Ted Cruz, 10% Ben Carson and 6% John Kasich. Trump's supporters are incredibly enthusiastic about the coming election, and largely committed in their support for him. Nearly 8 in 10 say that they are more enthusiastic about voting this year than in previous elections, among Republicans who are not supporting Trump, just 39% say they are more enthusiastic than in years past. Likewise, 78% of Trump's backers say they will definitely support him vs. 22% who say they could still change their minds. Among those backing other candidates, 57% say they are committed to their chosen candidate.” [CNN]
Trump continues to solidify GOP support - Trump’s 49 percent support among Republicans in the new CNN/ORC poll is a new high for the businessman, who's seen his numbers climb since the beginning of the primary season. HuffPost Pollster’s average has his support at 42 percent, up from 36 percent at the beginning of the month. National primary polls should be viewed with caution, since there is no national primary. But the polls are a good indicator that Republicans nationally are warming to Trump as he wins in the early states.
MONDAY'S 'OUTLIERS' - Links to the best of news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:
-Kerem Ozan Kalkan says ethnocentrism helps explain Trump's support. [WashPost]
-Hillary Clinton is once again the candidate most liked by Democrats. [Gallup]
-Nate Cohn thinks Clinton's sweep of South Carolina indicates that she'll continue to win in the south. [NYT]
-Philip Bump says it's unclear if low Democratic turnout in the primary will affect the general election outcome. [WashPost]
-The Upshot calculates what each GOP candidate would need to win the nomination. [NYT]
-Five international polling experts assert that, despite challenges, polling is not dead. [Prospect Magazine]