Gov. John Kasich is badly trailing New York billionaire Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in this month’s Pennsylvania Republican primary, according to a survey released this morning.
In a poll conducted by Quinnipiac University, Trump has the support of 39 percent of the likely Republican primary voters in Pennsylvania followed by 30 percent for Cruz and 24 percent for Kasich.
But in what has become a recurring pattern for Kasich, the survey shows he would be the strongest of the three remaining Republican presidential contenders against the likely Democratic nominees — either former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
The survey shows that Kasich, who was raised in western Pennsylvania, would overwhelm Clinton by a 51-to-35 margin and defeat Sanders by a 46-to-40 margin. No Republican presidential candidate has won Pennsylvania since President George H.W. Bush carried the state in 1988.
“Can you be mired in third place among Pennsylvania Republicans and still be your party’s best bet come Election Day?” asked Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac poll. “Welcome to Gov. John Kasich’s world, where the big prize is tantalizingly close, but blocked by two candidates with the same goal.”
Pennsylvania, Florida and Ohio are critical presidential swing states. “Since 1960, no one has won the White House without taking two of these three states,” said Malloy, referring to Democrat John F. Kennedy losing Ohio and Florida to Republican Richard Nixon and still winning the presidency.
The poll shows Clinton with a narrow 50-to-44 lead over Sanders among Democratic primary voters. Pennsylvania holds its presidential primary on April 26.
The telephone survey of 1,737 Pennsylvania voters — which included independents — was conducted from March 30 through Monday. The survey included 578 likely Republican primary voters and 514 likely Democrat primary voters.
The Republican survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points while the Democratic survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 points.
The poll shows that Kasich is having difficulty winning the support of the most conservative Republicans. According to the poll, 55 percent of people who call themselves tea party conservatives plan to support Cruz, while 34 percent back Trump.
Just 7 percent said they will vote for Kasich.