With the so-called “SEC primary” quickly approaching, Donald Trump has a 17-point lead over his closest rival in Alabama, according to a new poll.
Master Image, a Birmingham-based Republican consulting firm, released a poll Wednesday showing Trump with 36 percent, Florida Sen. [crscore]Marco Rubio[/crscore] at 19 percent, Texas Sen. [crscore]Ted Cruz[/crscore] at 12 percent, former neurosurgeon Ben Carson at 8 percent and Ohio Gov. John Kasich at 7 percent. Seventeen percent of those polled are still undecided.
On Tuesday, a slew of states will go to the polls, including in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma and Virginia. Trump is leading in many of these states; the day is also especially important to candidates like Cruz, whose strategy has long included winning a lot of delegates in the South.
“Trump’s popularity in Alabama continues the trend we see elsewhere,” said Joe Sanders, the president of Master Image. “Trump’s numbers in Alabama appear to be a few points lower than other southern states, but in line with what should happen on March 1, considering almost one in five voters remain undecided.”
As for Rubio being in second place in the poll, Sanders said the candidate is clearly benefiting from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s withdrawal from the race: “I think it is obvious the Bush voters have moved to Rubio.”
The poll shows a troubling trend for Cruz: in January, he had 17 percent support, in early February he had 13 percent, and now he has 12 percent.
Kasich has the backing of Alabama’s GOP Gov. Robert Bentley. Carson, who hasn’t placed very well in the early states so far, is thinking he could do better in southern states. But Sanders says neither appear to be gaining momentum.
“John Kasich and Ben Carson are gaining little ground in Alabama and their numbers are flat,” Sanders said.
The survey was conducted Tuesday of 1,556 Alabama Republicans with a 4.2 percent margin of error.