- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 17, 2016

With just days to go until Saturday’s South Carolina GOP presidential primary, businessman Donald Trump holds a 16-point lead over his next-closest competitor, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, according to a new CNN/ORC poll.

Mr. Trump was at 38 percent support among likely GOP primary voters in the state, followed by Mr. Cruz at 22 percent, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida at 14 percent, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at 10 percent, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson at 6 percent, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich at 4 percent in the poll released Tuesday.

By wide margins, Mr. Trump was judged the candidate best able to handle the economy, illegal immigration and the Islamic State terrorist group. He was also seen as the candidate with the best chance to win in November and the candidate most likely to change the way things work in Washington.

He also led the way on foreign policy, though by a smaller margin, and was edged out by Mr. Cruz on social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage.

Mr. Trump frequently touts his support among evangelical Christians, and he had a 19-point advantage over Mr. Cruz among white evangelicals at 42 percent to 23 percent.

The poll did show that Mr. Trump’s level of support was slightly different based on whether the interviews, conducted from Feb. 10-15, were done before or after the boisterous GOP debate on Saturday, Feb. 13. Forty percent backed Mr. Trump in interviews conducted before the debate, compared to 31 percent who supported him afterward.

On the Democratic side, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had an 18-point, 56 percent to 38 percent lead, over Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont. The Democratic primary will be held on Sat., Feb. 27.

Mrs. Clinton had about a 2-to-1 edge over Mr. Sanders among both black voters and women, while Mr. Sanders had a 14-point edge among white voters. Forty-nine percent of men supported Mrs. Clinton, while 45 percent supported Mr. Sanders.

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