Blocking Trump could hurt Republicans in election

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Trump Says Republican Party 'Is Not Treating Me Right'

A third of Republican voters who support Donald Trump could turn their backs on their party in November's presidential election if he is denied the nomination in a contested convention, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll.

The results are bad news for Trump's rivals as well as party elites opposed to the real estate billionaire, suggesting that an alternative Republican nominee for the Nov. 8 presidential race would have a tougher road against the Democrats.

"If it's a close election, this is devastating news" for the Republicans, said Donald Green, an expert on election turnout at Columbia University.

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Blocking Trump could hurt Republicans in election
A masked supporter dances before Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump arrives at a campaign town hall event in Wausau, Wisconsin April 2, 2016. REUTERS/Ben Brewer
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets supporters at a campaign rally in San Jose, California, U.S. June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Supporters cheer for U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at a campaign rally in San Jose, California, U.S. June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
People say the pledge of allegiance before listening to U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speak at a campaign rally in San Jose, California, U.S. June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Supporters wait for U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to speak at a campaign rally in San Jose, California, U.S. June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Supporters cheer for U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump as he speaks at a campaign rally in San Jose, California, U.S. June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Supporters (L-R) Annalisa Wales, 12, Scarlett Wales, 9, Barbara Wales, 68, and Katherine Wales, 10, wait for U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to speak at a campaign rally in San Jose, California, U.S. June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Supporters cheer for U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at a campaign rally in San Jose, California, U.S. June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets supporters at a campaign rally in San Jose, California, U.S. June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets supporters at a campaign rally in San Jose, California, U.S. June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets supporters at a campaign rally in San Jose, California, U.S. June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
People listen to U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speak at a campaign rally in Sacramento, California, U.S. June 1, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
A man carries a sign for Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump at the Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally to highlight POW-MIA issues on Memorial Day weekend in Washington, U.S. May 29, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
People watch Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump address the Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally to highlight POW-MIA issues on Memorial Day weekend in Washington, U.S. May 29, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Supporters attend a rally with Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump in San Diego, California, U.S. May 27, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Marcos Spence solicits volunteers to work for the campaign of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump as they stand in line before the start of his rally in Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S. May 24, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
A supporter holds a sign as Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump holds a rally in Anaheim, California, U.S. May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Supporters line up to enter a convention center where U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds a campaign rally in Anaheim, California, United States May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Supporters of Republican U.S. Presidential candidate Donald Trump arrive before Trump speaks at a campaign event in Anaheim, California U.S. May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
A supporter of Republican U.S. Presidential candidate Donald Trump holds a sign before Trump speaks at a campaign event in Anaheim, California U.S. May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Supporters of Republican U.S. Presidential candidate Donald Trump arrive before Trump speaks at a campaign event in Anaheim, California U.S. May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Supporters of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump stand in line before the start of his rally in Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S. May 24, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.
A supporter of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump attends a Trump campaign rally at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, New Hampshire, February 8, 2016. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
A supporter of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump wearing a "Trump for President '16" t-shirt listens to the candidate speak at a campaign rally at the airport in Hagerstown, Maryland, U.S. On April 24, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Bourg/File Photo
Activists of Hindu Sena, a Hindu right-wing group, perform a special prayer to ensure a victory of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump in the upcoming elections, according to a media release, in New Delhi, India May 11, 2016. REUTERS/Anindito Mukherjee
Supporters hold signs as Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Lynden, Washington, U.S., May 7, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart
Supporters cheer as Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Lynden, Washington, U.S., May 7, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart
Supporters hold signs as Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Lynden, Washington, U.S., May 7, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart
A supporter of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds a sign during a rally in Spokane, Wash., Saturday, May 7, 2016. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Delegate Douglas Marshall in the Donald Trump booth during the second day of the Republican Party of Texas state convention on May 13, 2016 in Dallas. (Paul Moseley/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS via Getty Images)
Supporters look on as Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a rally Saturday, May 7, 2016, in Lynden, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
A supporter of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds a sign during a campaign event at Grumman Studios in Bethpage, New York April 6, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
A supporter of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump takes a photo during a campaign event at Grumman Studios in Bethpage, New York April 6, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump supporters Josh (R), and his father Jeff Schimek (L), wait for him to speaks during a Town Hall at the Racine Civic Centre Memorial Hall April 2, 2016. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE
Supporters (L) of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump point and scream at an anti-Trump demonstrator (R) holding a sign reading "More Like Make America Racist Again" sign during a Trump campaign rally in Fountain Hills, Arizona March 19, 2016. REUTERS/Ricardo Arduengo TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A supporter of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump attends a campaign rally in De Pere, Wisconsin, United States, March 30, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young
Bob Bolus, a supporter of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, gives the thumbs up to drivers as they pass by on Super Tuesday in Middleburg Heights, Ohio March 15, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk
Rosemary Harder wears a hat supporting Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump during a news conference, after the Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Illinois and Missouri primary elections, held at his Mar-A-Lago Club, in Palm Beach, Florida March 15, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
Supporter of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump Alex Stypik joins Trump (L) on stage at a campaign rally in Bloomington, Illinois March 13, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young
A Trump supporter (R) yells at a demonstrator (L) after Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump cancelled his rally at the University of Illinois at Chicago March 11, 2016. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Supporters of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump cheer on their candidate at a Trump campaign rally in New Orleans, Louisiana March 4, 2016. REUTERS/Layne Murdoch Jr.
A supporter of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump attends a campaign rally in Cadillac, Michigan, March 4, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young
A supporter of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump holds up a sign at a campaign rally at Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Georgia February 29, 2016. REUTERS/ Philip Sears
A supporter of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump celebrates with a cigar at Trump's 2016 South Carolina presidential primary night rally in Spartanburg, South Carolina February 20, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
A campaign volunteer for U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump wears a hat signed by Trump during a rally with supporters in Gaffney, South Carolina February 18, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Freda Green, of Louisiana, wears a hat in support of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump before a rally in Baton Rouge, Louisiana February 11, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
A veteran of both the Korean and the Vietnam War, C.J. Dauzt wears a sticker in support of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump before a rally in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in Baton Rouge, Louisiana February 11, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
10-year-old Ian Linden, of New Orleans, holds a sign in support of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump before a rally in Baton Rouge, Louisiana February 11, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
Supporter of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump wait for the start of his campaign rally in Plymouth, New Hampshire February 7, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
Anne-Sophie Marquis cradles her doll Clare, wearing a button supporting U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, at a Trump campaign rally in Plymouth, New Hampshire February 7, 2016. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Young supporters of Republican U.S. presidential candidate businessman Donald Trump wait for Trump to speak at a veteran's rally in Des Moines, Iowa January 28, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Mark Palzer shows his support for U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump before a campaign rally at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma January 20, 2016. REUTERS/Nick Oxford
Barbara Tomasino shows her support for U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump before a campaign rally at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, January 20, 2016. REUTERS/Nick Oxford
Supporters of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump attend a campaign rally at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, January 20, 2016. REUTERS/Nick Oxford
Liberty University students and supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump wear letters spelling his name before his speech at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, January 18, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
A supporter of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump wears a National Rifle Association shirt before his speech at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, January 18, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Trump supporters Joshua Smith (from Left) and Seth Stephens, both of Aiken, South Carolina and Rona Bartolomucci of Hilton Head Island, wait along the front buffer before a rally for U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at the Westin Hilton Head Island Resort and Spa in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, December 30, 2015. REUTERS/Randall Hill
FOUNTAIN HILLS, AZ - MARCH 19: Supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump look on during Fountain Park during a campaign rally on March 19, 2016 in Fountain Hills, Arizona. Trumps visit to Arizona is the second time in three months as he looks to gain the GOP nomination for President. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - MARCH 18: A supporter waits for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speak at a campaign rally on March 18, 2016 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Republican and Democratic caucuses are March 22. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
A supporter of Donald Trump, president and chief executive of Trump Organization Inc. and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, wears campaign stickers on her sandals before a town hall event at the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa, Florida, U.S., on Monday, March 14, 2016. As protesters shadow campaign appearances by Trump, the billionaire has shifted a planned Monday-night rally in south Florida to Ohio, where polls show Governor John Kasich may be pulling ahead days before the states primary election. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Trump supporters pass out signs prior to a rally for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on March 13, 2016 in Boca Raton, Florida. Primary voters head to the polls on March 15th in Florida. / AFP / RHONA WISE (Photo credit should read RHONA WISE/AFP/Getty Images)
Attendees wait for the start of a campaign event with Donald Trump, president and chief executive of Trump Organization Inc. and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, not pictured, in Bloomington, Illinois, U.S., on Sunday, March 13, 2016. After violent protests prompted Donald Trump to cancel a rally in Chicago on Friday night, the Republican presidential front-runner blamed the activist group MoveOn.Org and supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders for the chaos, while defending his own harassed supporters. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Donald Trump, president and chief executive of Trump Organization Inc. and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, left, stands with a man he called onto the stage from the crowd because of the 'Legal Immigrant For Trump' t-shirt he was wearing, during a campaign event in Bloomington, Illinois, U.S., on Sunday, March 13, 2016. After violent protests prompted Donald Trump to cancel a rally in Chicago on Friday night, the Republican presidential front-runner blamed the activist group MoveOn.Org and supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders for the chaos, while defending his own harassed supporters. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 11: A supporter exists the University of Illinois at Chicago Pavilion where Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump cancelled a campaign rally over safety concerns March 11, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Illinois Republican presidential primary will be held March 15. (Photo by Jonathan Gibby/Getty Images)
Supporters of Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump gather prior to a Trump Rally at the Peabody Opera House on March 11, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri. / AFP / Michael B. Thomas (Photo credit should read MICHAEL B. THOMAS/AFP/Getty Images)
Supporters of Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump gather prior to a Trump Rally at the Peabody Opera House on March 11, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri. / AFP / Michael B. Thomas (Photo credit should read MICHAEL B. THOMAS/AFP/Getty Images)
RADFORD, VA - FEBRUARY 29: A campaign rally for Donald J. Trump, candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, at the Radford University Dedmon Arena in Radford, Virginia, on Monday, February 29, 2016. (Photo by Benjamin Lowy/Getty Images Reportage)
A woman reacts as U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump works the crowd following a campaign event in an airplane hanger in Rome, New York April 12, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
A woman reacts as U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump works the crowd following a campaign event in an airplane hanger in Rome, New York April 12, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
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The Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted March 30 to April 8 asked Trump's Republican supporters two questions: if Trump wins the most delegates in the primaries but loses the nomination, what would they do on Election Day, and how would it impact their relationship with the Republican Party?

Sixty-six percent said they would vote for the candidate who eventually wins the nomination, while the remaining third were split between a number of alternatives such as not voting, supporting a third-party candidate, and switching parties and voting for the Democratic nominee.

Meanwhile, 58 percent said they would remain with the Republican Party. Another 16 percent said they would leave it, and 26 percent said they did not know what they would do with their registration. The online poll of 468 Republican Trump supporters has a credibility interval of 5.3 percentage points.

(Click here for the poll results: http://tmsnrt.rs/25PRLZe )

Trump has topped the national polls throughout most of the race for the Republican nomination, and has won more delegates than any other Republican so far. A Reuters/Ipsos online poll from April 4-8 showed that 42 percent of Republicans support Trump, compared with 32 percent for U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and 20 percent for Ohio Governor John Kasich.

Cruz and Kasich have both said their paths to victory rely on winning at least enough votes to block an outright win for Trump and force a decision at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

'I'LL BE FED UP'

But Trump, whose supporters have remained loyal even as he rankled women, Hispanics, Muslims, veterans and others with his fiery rhetoric on the campaign trail, predicted last month there would be riots outside the convention if he was blocked.

"If they broker him out, I'll be fed up with the Republicans," said Chuck Thompson, 66, a Trump supporter from Concord, North Carolina, who took the poll.

Thompson, a lifelong Republican, said he admires Trump's independence from big campaign donors and takes that as a sign that the front-runner will be able to think for himself if he were to become president.

If Trump loses the nomination, Thompson said he would quit the party. "The people want Donald Trump. If they (Republicans) can't deal with that, I don't need them," he said.

Green said the departure of even a small number of Republicans would make it tough for the party to prevent the Democrats from winning the White House, especially if the election is again decided by razor-thin margins in a handful of battleground states.

In 2012, President Barack Obama won Florida by less than 1 percentage point and Ohio and Virginia by less than 4 percentage points. "The Republicans don't really have any margin of error," Green said.

Trump and Cruz both trail Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton among likely general election voters in a hypothetical general election matchup, but not by much, according to the latest Reuters/Ipsos polls.

Generally, a convention battle is a bad sign for the health of a political party, said Elaine Kamarck, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and author of the book, "Primary Politics: How Presidential Candidates Have Shaped the Modern Nominating System."

"When a party gets to a point when it has a contested convention, it almost always hurts them," Kamarck said. "It's a confirmation of some really deep fissures within the party that were unable to be dealt with during the primary season."

Trump supporter Elizabeth Oerther, 40, of Louisville, Kentucky, said she would switch parties and vote for the Democratic nominee if the Republicans denied Trump the nomination.

"If you don't give it to him, I'm going to vote against them," said Oerther, who took the poll. "They want to take away the choice of the people. That's wrong."

(Reporting by Chris Kahn; Editing by Bill Trott)

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