SAINT LEO, Fla., March 23, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In hypothetical head-to-head general election contests, either Democratic candidate would defeat any Republican challenger, a new poll released by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute shows.
Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont leads Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, with 51.1 percent to 37.4 percent. In a Hillary Clinton versus Trump scenario, 47.7 percent report they would support the former U.S. Secretary of State, comfortably topping the 38.4 percent who said they would back Trump.
Ohio Governor John Kasich scored the highest among Republican candidates in the hypothetical matches, but still did not emerge a winner. He had 40.7 percent against Clinton, who got 42.4 percent. Kasich garnered 38.4 percent when pitted against Sanders, who earned 44 percent.
Continuing the possible different scenarios, likely voters gave Sanders 49 percent when competing with U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who received 34.2 percent. In a Clinton-versus-Cruz race, Clinton earned 46.9 percent while Cruz secured 37 percent.
"Head-to-head, it looks like a good start for the Democrats. They've taken advantage of the fact that the GOP race is beset by a perceived dysfunction," said Frank Orlando, Saint Leo political science instructor. "Still, it's a long way from November, and the parties haven't crystallized completely behind their nominee yet. It's going to get closer as the campaigns focus their attacks on their opponent in the general election."
Among Democratic likely voters, Clinton was the top choice for presidential candidate with 58.7 percent nationally while Sanders earned 35.2 percent. For Republicans, Trump was the leading vote getter with 44.6 percent, followed by Cruz at 21.3 percent, and Kasich with 18.2 percent.
"I think Clinton still is going to be a strong favorite, especially if Donald Trump is her Republican opponent," said Orlando. "That being said, general elections are not isolated from shocks in the economy or world affairs. In a head-to-head race, things can change quickly, and if the terrible events that just played out in Belgium occur closer to Election Day, all bets are off."
The Saint Leo University Polling Institute survey results about Florida and national politics, public policy issues, Pope Francis' popularity, and other topics, can be found here: http://polls.saintleo.edu. You can also follow the institute on Twitter @saintleopolls.
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SOURCE Saint Leo University Polling Institute