By Thomas Madison

Continuing to surge, Donald Trump’s popularity is soaring at 53% in the most recent YouGov poll. His favorability rating has also spiked, now at 66%.

Trump picked up the lion’s share of Ben Carson’s supporters since Carson left the race last week, as well as many disaffected Rubio supporters, thanks to Marco’s untimely fall (plummet) from grace, due ostensibly to the recent bimbo eruptions and backlash from his recent attacks on The Donald, especially the very personal insults involving small hands. Cheap and childish, and GOP voters don’t appreciate such unbecoming high school smack from a presidential candidate.

If The Donald wins both Florida and Ohio today, two winner-take-all contests, then that should seal the deal.

The biggest remaining question is the grand prize, California, offering up a nation-high 172 delegates. In the most recent HuffPo poll, which averaged six independent polls, two of which were conducted in the past week, Trump enjoys a 10-point advantage over Cruz in California.

From YouGov

In the last two weeks, Republican frontrunner Donald Trump has won more delegates in primaries and caucuses, even while his opponents have launched new attacks and questions have been raised about his supporters.  The week’s Economist/YouGov Poll finds Trump still at the top of GOP voters’ preference with a wider lead, while Florida Senator Marco Rubio seems most damaged by the two weeks of attacks and counter-attacks.

This is the first time Trump has garnered the support of a majority of Republican primary voters nationwide. YouGov’s February 24-27 survey marked his previous high, at 44% support.

Two weeks ago, the national Economist/YouGov Poll showed Rubio and Texas Senator Ted Cruz battling for second place behind Trump, in a field which still included retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson (who has since endorsed Trump).  This week, Rubio is battling Ohio Governor John Kasich for last place, with half the support Republican voters give to Cruz.  He is behind both Cruz and Kasich when Republican voters are asked for their second choice.  And only 19% of Republican voters would be enthusiastic about a Rubio nomination (in contrast, half would be enthusiastic if Trump were the nominee).

Rubio is the least liked of all the remaining GOP candidates.  His favorable rating among Republican primary voters has dropped nine points from what it was two weeks ago; his unfavorable rating has jumped eleven points in the same period.  Every other remaining contender, including Kasich, receives better ratings.

42% of Republican primary voters say they have become less favorable towards Rubio, based on what they have heard about him lately, more than say that about any of the other GOP candidates.

This poll was conducted mostly before this weekend’s series of protests and arrests at Donald Trump rallies in places like Chicago, Dayton, Ohio and Kansas City.  Their full impact on opinion – if any — can’t be measured in the poll.

Kasich’s ratings are particularly strong this week.  He gained five points among Republican primary voters in favorability compared with the last Economist/YouGov Poll.  Among the public overall, slightly more people like Kasich than dislike him.  Those national ratings are better than those Americans give any of the other Republicans (for comparison, 61% of Americans have anunfavorable view of Trump).  Kasich scores better with Democratic primary voters than any other GOP candidate (and if Democratic voters could choose the GOP nominee, Kasich would be the frontrunner).

Trump, who is the clear GOP frontrunner (74% of Republican primary voters expect him to be the nominee), still has a way to go to win over the supporters of his GOP opponents.  About four in ten Republican voters don’t think Trump cares about people like them, and believe he cares more about himself than the country.  A third are dubious about his plans for the economy, think he is not honest and trustworthy, and say he isn’t ready to be Commander-in-Chief.

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