Republican presidential candidate Ohio Gov. John Kasich, speaks about his platform during a town hall meeting in Gulfport, Miss., Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Photo: Rogelio V. Solis
Photo: Rogelio V. Solis

Poll: Kasich beats Clinton in Ohio; says he’s staying in race

A new poll shows Republican John Kasich would beat former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by 17 points and would thump U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders by 19 points in a general election match-up in Ohio, which is the ultimate swing state.

No Republican has ever won the White House without winning Ohio and the last Democrat to do so was John Kennedy in 1960.

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The poll from Quinnipiac University plays into the Kasich campaign’s argument that he runs best against potential general election opponents. The Kasich campaign fired off an email saying the poll results are “a stark reminder for Republicans who want to win the White House that Gov. Kasich is far and away the best candidate to carry Ohio in November.”

But pollsters said earlier this week that real estate tycoon and reality TV star Donald Trump would beat Kasich by five points if the GOP primary were held now.

Kasich is sending a message to Republicans who think he should drop out of the GOP presidential contest: “Forget about it.”

With Jeb Bush out of the race, Kasich’s and Marco Rubio’s campaigns are in a fierce battle to become the so-called establishment alternative to front runner Donald Trump.

Kasich’s campaign is running a strategy that relies on surviving through the March 1 Super Tuesday contest and winning Michigan’s March 8 primary. Kasich says people need to “chill out” because there’s a “long way to go” in the GOP nominating contest.

Then, Kasich says he’d love to take on Trump in his home state of Ohio, which holds its winner-take-all primary on March 15.

In a general election match up in Ohio, Kasich would beat Clinton 54-37 percent and would beat Sanders 54-35 percent but the other potential head-to-head contests were too close to call, according to the poll. Trump would beat Clinton by 2 points, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz would beat her by 3 points and Rubio would win by 5 points, the poll found.

If Sanders were to be the Democratic candidate, he would tie against Trump, beat Cruz by two points and lose to Rubio by two points, according to the poll.

Associated Press contributed to this report

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