WASHINGTON – A Journal poll that surveyed New Mexico’s likely Republican voters found that Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz would benefit most if other Republican presidential candidates dropped out of the race.
Meanwhile, preference for Donald Trump as a fallback candidate was anemic.
The survey asked: “If your preferred candidate dropped out of the race who would be your second choice?” Twenty-nine percent of respondents said they were undecided, or didn’t know, who their second choice candidate would be.
Nineteen percent of those who stated a second choice preference said that choice would be Rubio. Eighteen percent of poll respondents said Cruz would be their second choice.
Ben Carson would be the second choice of 12 percent of Republicans polled, while just 8 percent of New Mexicans said Donald Trump would be their second choice if their preferred candidate dropped out of the race.
Jeb Bush and John Kasich were each the second choice of 7 percent of New Mexico Republicans. Bush dropped out of the presidential race Saturday night. The poll surveyed 403 likely Republican voters in the state and had a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points.
“Donald Trump is the second choice of relatively few Republican voters so as other candidates drop out of the race, Cruz and Rubio would benefit the most,” said Brian Sanderoff, president of Research and Polling Inc., which conducted the poll.
Thirty-four percent of Republicans polled in New Mexico who preferred Bush would shift their support to Rubio if the former Florida governor dropped out.
“Marco Rubio may be the biggest beneficiary of Jeb Bush dropping out of the race Saturday night,” Sanderoff said.
If Carson exited the race, it wouldn’t have a big impact on the other candidates among New Mexico Republicans, according to the poll. “Carson’s supporters would spread out fairly evenly among the other candidates,” Sanderoff said.