Marco Rubio tied with Ted Cruz in Georgia; Kasich and Carson see support in the single digits
Eleven states will award delegates in the GOP presidential race on Tuesday. In Texas, the state with the most delegates at stake, Mr. Cruz leads among likely voters by 13 percentage points, the survey finds.
Mr. Cruz has the support of 39% of likely voters in Texas, while Mr. Trump draws 26%. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio places third, with 16%.
Mr. Cruz won the Iowa caucuses early this month, but he finished third in the following three contests. A substantial win in Texas could bolster his argument that he, not Mr. Rubio, is the best candidate to challenge Mr. Trump, the party’s front-runner, in a head-to-head contest.
Mr. Trump leads by 18 percentage points in Tennessee and by 7 points in Georgia. Messrs. Cruz and Rubio are running neck-and-neck for second place in both states, the Journal/NBC/Marist survey shows.
In Georgia, Mr. Trump draws 30% support, with Messrs. Cruz and Rubio each drawing 23%, the survey there found.
Mr. Trump draws 40% support in Tennessee, compared with 22% for Mr. Cruz and 19% for Mr. Rubio.
Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and Ohio Gov. John Kasich are in single digits in all three states.
The poll of three Super Tuesday states was conducted before Thursday’s GOP debate, in which Mr. Rubio, and to a lesser degree Mr. Cruz, aggressively challenged Mr. Trump on his conservative credentials, personal conduct and policy positions.
After those events, Marist pollsters re-interviewed more than one-quarter of likely voters in the survey. They found no statistically significant changes in each candidate’s level of support, though Mr. Kasich emerged as the most vulnerable to losing supporters after the debate.
The largest share of voters re-interviewed named Mr. Rubio the winner of the debate, followed by Mr. Trump.
The surveys of Texas, Georgia and Tennessee reinforce some of the demographic divisions that have marked the race to date: Mr. Trump shows particular strength among voters without a four-year college degree and among moderate voters, while Mr. Cruz draws the most conservative voters. One exception is in Texas, where Mr. Cruz is winning among voters with and without college degrees, the survey finds.
Super Tuesday will allocate more delegates than any other day of voting. Rules for awarding delegates vary among the Super Tuesday states, but all use some form of proportional allocation. That means candidates who don’t finish first in the statewide tally can win delegates, though they often have to meet a threshold of support to be eligible.
The Texas survey interviewed 537 likely GOP voters and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points. The Tennessee survey included 665 likely Republican voters and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points. The Georgia survey interviewed 543 likely GOP voters and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.
The surveys in Texas and Georgia were conducted Feb. 18-23. The survey in Tennessee was conducted Feb. 22-25.