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CBS/NYT poll: Who's to blame for violence at Donald Trump rallies?

Last Updated Mar 21, 2016 7:11 PM EDT

By Anthony Salvanto, Fred Backus, Jennifer De Pinto, Sarah Dutton

Where the Race Stands

Donald Trump continues to lead his Republican rivals by double digits among Republican primary voters nationally. Forty-six percent of Republican primary voters would like Donald Trump to win the Republican Party's nomination for President, the same percentage as Ted Cruz (26 percent) and John Kasich (20 percent) combined. 4 percent say they would vote for none of these candidates.

Although the percentage that supports each of the three remaining candidates has risen since Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, and Marco Rubio left the race, Donald Trump has made the most gains. Support for Trump has risen eleven points -- from 35 percent in February to 46 percent now -- while support has risen eight points for Ted Cruz and nine points for John Kasich.

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Donald Trump continues to dominate his rivals among nearly every demographic group. He leads among Republicans and independents, men and women, white evangelicals, both moderates and conservatives - including very conservative voters - and Americans of all income levels.

Violence at Trump Rallies

Donald Trump's frontrunner status for the Republican nomination hasn't been compromised by the incidents of violence that have occurred at some of his rallies, perhaps because few Republican primary voters put the blame on his supporters. Sixty percent of Republican primary voters -- and eight in 10 Trump supporters - place most of the blame for these incidents on the protesters.

Most registered voters overall have heard a lot about these incidents of violence, and they are more likely to blame the protesters and Trump supporters equally. Forty-three percent of registered voters blame both sides, while 29 percent of voters think it's the protesters who are mostly to blame for these incidents and 23 percent mostly blame Donald Trump's supporters.

Fifty percent of Republican primary voters, and eight in 10 Trump supporters, approve of how Trump is handling the violence. By contrast, among voters overall two in three disapprove of how Donald Trump is handling these incidents.

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A Brokered Convention and the Campaigns

If none of the Republican candidates receive a majority of their party's delegates by the time of the Republican nominating convention in July, it's possible that a candidate who has not received the most delegates could become the Republican nominee. If that happens, nearly two thirds of Republican primary voters think it would be bad for the Republican Party, including 86 percent of Trump supporters and nearly half (47 percent) of those supporting either Ted Cruz or John Kasich

Concern about a brokered convention comes amidst widespread views that the Republican Party is fractured: 88 percent of Republican primary voters describe their party as divided. In contrast, most Democratic primary voters describe the Democratic Party as united.

Republican primary voters appear more negative in their assessment of their party's nominating contest than their counterparts on the Democratic side. Fifty-eight percent of Republican primary voters think the tone of this year's campaign has been more negative than past contests, while this is true of 9 percent of Democratic primary voters.

And six in 10 Republican primary voters say the Republican presidential campaign has made them feel mostly embarrassed. In contrast, eight in 10 Democratic primary voters say their party's campaign has made them feel mostly proud.

On a more positive note, 56 percent of Republican primary voters think the Republican presidential candidates are talking about the issues that matter most to them. But among Democratic primary voters, this percentage rises to 78 percent.

Support for the Eventual Nominee

Thirty-five percent of Republican primary voters would enthusiastically support a Trump candidacy, higher than enthusiasm for Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio if either of them became the Republican nominee. Just 17 percent of Republican primary voters would not support Donald Trump if he were to win the nomination.

Few Cruz and Kasich supporters would be enthusiastic about Trump, though most say they would support him. Still, 34 percent of Cruz and Kasich supporters would not support Donald Trump if he became the nominee. Conversely, 22 percent of Trump voters would not support Kasich and 33 percent would not support Cruz if either of them won the nomination.

More than three in four Republican primary voters expect Donald Trump to win the nomination, including two out of three primary voters who are supporting either Ted Cruz or John Kasich.

Candidate Qualities

Majorities of Republican primary voters think all three remaining candidates are honest, share their values, and have strong qualities of leadership. Donald Trump (76 percent) is seen overall as the strongest leader, while John Kasich (70 percent) is seen as the most honest and trustworthy.

Second Choice

John Kasich (37 percent) is the top second choice among Republican primary voters, followed by Ted Cruz (30 percent). Trump voters are also more likely to pick John Kasich as their second choice than Ted Cruz.

Views of Government

Most voters -- and seven in 10 Republicans -- think government is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals, while most Democrats think the government should do more. Independents side with Republicans on this measure.

A large majority of Americans continues to harbor distrust of the federal government: seven in 10 voters trust the government in Washington to do what is right only some of the time. Distrust in Washington cuts across party lines, though it is highest among Republicans.


This poll was conducted by telephone March 17-20, 2016 among a random sample of 1,252 adults nationwide, including 1,058 registered voters and 362 registered voters likely to vote in a Republican primary. Data collection was conducted on behalf of CBS News and the New York Times by SSRS of Media, PA. Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard land-line and cell phones.

The poll employed a random digit dial methodology. For the landline sample, a respondent was randomly selected from all adults in the household. For the cell sample, interviews were conducted with the person who answered the phone.

Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish using live interviewers.

The data have been weighted to reflect U.S. Census figures on demographic variables.

The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The margin of error for the sample of 362 Republican primary voters could be plus or minus six percentage points. The error for other subgroups may be higher and is available by request. The margin of error includes the effects of standard weighting procedures which enlarge sampling error slightly.

3/21/16 CBS NYT Rep Poll Toplines by CBSNewsPolitics