- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 23, 2016

GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump leads 2016 Republican rival John Kasich by 5 points in Mr. Kasich’s all-important home state of Ohio, according to a poll released Tuesday.

Mr. Trump was at 31 percent support among likely GOP voters in the state, with Mr. Kasich, the Ohio governor, at 26 percent, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas at 21 percent, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida at 13 percent, and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson at 5 percent, according to the Quinnipiac poll.

“The Donald Trump train begins the three-week campaign for Ohio’s crucial delegates on the right track and holds a small lead over the Buckeye State’s own governor, John Kasich,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

Mr. Kasich has been looking beyond states like South Carolina and Nevada and is banking his White House hopes on strong performances in midwestern states like Ohio and Michigan that vote after the upcoming March 1 primary contests.

Mr. Kasich campaigned Monday in Virginia, and is scheduled to be in Georgia on Tuesday and Mississippi and Louisiana later this week. Virginia and Georgia hold their nominating contests on March 1, while Mississippi, Louisiana and Michigan vote in early March. Ohio votes on March 15.

“A Kasich Ohio win is crucial to the Republicans trying to stop the New York businessman’s nomination,” Mr. Brown said. “If Trump can defeat Kasich in his home state, that would be an impressive demonstration of his strength in a state that is just now getting attention. But Trump’s lead is just 5 points, certainly not large enough for him to breathe easy.”

Mr. Trump also topped the “no way” list, with 32 percent of likely GOP voters saying they would definitely not support him, and 22 percent saying the same of Mr. Cruz.

Mr. Kasich still had a better favorability rating, with 77 percent reporting a favorable opinion and 14 percent having an unfavorable opinion.

Mr. Rubio had a 62 percent/17 percent favorable/unfavorable split, Mr. Cruz had a 60 percent/27 percent split, and Mr. Trump had a 57 percent/36 percent split.

But Mr. Trump’s supporters also appeared to be more committed to him; 78 percent of his supporters said their mind is made up, which was higher than the percentage of Mr. Kasich’s or Mr. Cruz’s supporters who said the same.

On the Democratic side, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton led Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont by 15 points, 55 percent to 40 percent.

“Former Secretary Hillary Clinton has a solid double-digit lead over Sen. Sanders, but anything can happen in three weeks of presidential politics,” Mr. Brown said.

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