The chaotic events of a contested convention this summer could leave House Speaker Paul Ryan as the Republican nominee for president, but he would still have an uphill climb to winning the general election, according to a new Morning Consult survey.

The Wisconsin Republican, who will preside over the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, has deflected questions about being drafted as the nominee in the event that no candidate is able to attain the 1,237 delegates needed to lock up the nomination.

The new poll, taken March 18 through March 21, shows Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton taking 43 percent of the general election vote, while Ryan would get 35 percent if he were the GOP nominee. Almost one-fourth of voters (22 percent) said they were undecided in a head-to-head match between Clinton and Ryan.

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Meanwhile, liberal firebrand Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) also leads Ryan 49 percent to 39 percent, according to the national poll of 2,001 registered voters. About one-fourth of voters (23 percent) were undecided in that scenario.

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Sanders’ advantage over Clinton against the Ryan appears to be born out of his strong support among independent voters: The Vermont senator wins 44 percent of the independent vote in a head-to-head matchup with Ryan, while Clinton wins only 32 percent.

Ryan is among the more visible faces of the Republican Party, having run alongside Mitt Romney on the 2012 GOP ticket and last year elected to one of the most powerful positions on Capitol Hill. But he is still a bit of a mystery to many voters compared to the candidates currently in the presidential field. Fourteen percent of voters say they have never heard of Ryan. Only Ohio Gov. John Kasich has similar tepid name recognition, with 13 percent of voters saying they have never heard of him.

By contrast, 3 percent of voters have never heard of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Practically every voter has heard of GOP front-runner Donald Trump. (The “don’t know” answers are less than 1 percent.)

Only 2 percent of voters have never heard of Sanders, and 1 percent have never heard of Clinton.

Looking at the other GOP contenders, it’s Kasich who performs best in head-to-head matchups with the Democrats. The poll shows Clinton beating him by just 2 points, with one out of five voters undecided. She beats Cruz and Trump by 8 and 7 points, respectively.

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The margins are even bigger for Democrats if Sanders is the nominee: The poll shows him beating Kasich by 14 points, Trump by 16 points and Cruz by 18 points.

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But it’s looking increasingly less likely that Sanders will be the nominee, as Clinton has secured nearly double the number of delegates in the race. She also picked up some momentum in Morning Consult’s latest matchup between her and Sanders, where she polls above 50 percent for the first time in several weeks.

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As for the current state of the GOP presidential race, Trump remains the strong front runner with 45 percent of the vote, up 2 points from our previous poll. Cruz and Kasich each lost 1 point.

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The Morning Consult survey polled 2,001 registered voters from March 18-21 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points. See the toplines and crosstabs.


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