Clinton, Sanders close in Rhode Island, Connecticut, but Trump favorite over GOP rivals

Democratic U.S. presidential candidates Hillary Clinton (L) and Senator Bernie Sanders © Lucas Jackson
Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are within a few points of each other in upcoming Democratic contests, according to a new poll, while Donald Trump remains the GOP frontrunner even with other candidates teaming up against him.

In Connecticut, Clinton has a small two-point lead over Sanders, 48 to 46 percent, according to a poll released Monday by Public Policy Polling. The survey found that African-American voters are the big reason why Clinton is up on the Vermont senator, as she leads 63 to 24 percent among that group.

The script is flipped in Rhode Island, where Sanders looks to have the edge against the former secretary of state. He is winning by four points, 49 to 45 percent. In this case, Clinton has a 14-point lead among registered Democrats (54 to 40 percent), but Sanders claims an overwhelming edge with independents (67 to 28 percent).

Polling in both of these states had a margin of error of nearly 4 percent, meaning they could still go either way.

In Pennsylvania, though, Clinton holds a 51 to 41 percent advantage over Sanders, according to the survey. She maintained the double-digit lead that other polls have shown her enjoying, though the lead is actually smaller than other surveys have suggested. A recent poll from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal showed her with a 15-point lead, 55 to 40 percent.

All three states will head to the polls on Tuesday, along with Delaware and Maryland, when 463 delegates will be up for grabs, including superdelegates (unpledged party officials who can support whomever they choose). Sanders will need big victories to make up ground against Clinton, since the states allocate delegates proportionally based on voting results and superdelegates are leaning heavily in her favor.

Currently, Clinton has 1,941 delegates compared to 1,191 for Sanders, according to Associated Press data. If superdelegates are taken out of the equation, her lead shrinks to 1,428 – 1,153.

On the Republican side, the race is simultaneously less and more complicated. According to Monday’s PPP polling, Trump is handily winning the favor of voters. He is garnering the support of 59 percent of GOP voters in Connecticut, with Ohio Governor John Kasich in second place at 25 percent and Texas Senator Ted Cruz at 13 percent.

In Pennsylvania, Trump leads Cruz 51 to 25 percent, with Kasich at 22 percent. In Rhode Island, meanwhile, Trump is enjoying the support of a whopping 61 percent of voters, while Kasich takes second with 23 percent and Cruz sits at 13 percent.

While Trump is seemingly on the way to huge wins in all three states, Cruz and Kasich are teaming up to complicate his path to victory in the states that follow. Both campaigns announced Sunday that they would essentially stop competing with each other in upcoming primaries in order to boost their chances of defeating Trump.

As a result, the Cruz campaign said it will “clear the path” for Kasich in Oregon and New Mexico “to ensure that we nominate a Republican who can unify the Republican Party and win in November.” The campaign called the potential nomination of Trump “a sure disaster for Republicans.”

“Not only would Trump get blown out by Clinton or Sanders, but having him as our nominee would set the party back a generation,” Cruz campaign manager Jeff Roe said in a statement.

In turn, Kasich will give Cruz “a clear path” in Indiana and shift campaign resources to Oregon and New Mexico.

With neither Cruz nor Kasich able to win the GOP nomination outright, their goal has shifted to blocking Trump from clinching it. Trump currently has 845 delegates, according to AP, with Cruz at 559 and Kasich lagging at 148. It’s possible that Trump won’t have enough to claim the top of the ticket outright, but he is likely to go into the convention as the clear frontrunner.

In his response to the strategy of his rivals, Trump accused them of “collusion” and continued to argue the nominating process is “rigged.”

“It is sad that two grown politicians have to collude against one person who has only been a politician for 10 months in order to try and stop that person from getting the Republican nomination,” Trump said.