On Friday, a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll was released showing Ted Cruz breathing down Donald Trump’s neck in South Carolina.
The poll, conducted from February 15-17, showed Trump receiving 28% of votes from likely Republican voters, with Cruz following him at 23%. Only a month ago, Trump led by 16 points, 36% to Cruz’s 20%.
Trailing the leaders, Marco Rubio garnered 15% of the vote, Jeb Bush claimed 13%, and John Kasich and Ben Carson tied with 9%.
The more conservative the voter, the more likely the vote would go to Cruz, as the results indicated. Among those describing themselves as “moderate,” Trump led Cruz 20% to 11%, (although Jeb Bush led the field at 24%); among those describing themselves as “conservative,” Trump led Cruz 32% to 21%, but among those describing themselves as “very conservative” Cruz decimated Trump, 42% to 22%.
Voters over 45 preferred Trump by a 28% to 20% margin; but among voters younger than 45 Cruz led 28% to 27%. College educated voters preferred Cruz, 22% to 21%; non-college educated voters swung to Trump, 33% to 23%.
GOP consultant Walter Ehetsell told The Hill, “The odds are still on Trump, for sure, but I would not underestimate two or three of the other candidates, and I would point you to the exit polls in ’12 that in South Carolina said 55 percent of the voters made up their minds in the last week. Dramatic, big things are happening very quickly.”