Washington: Defying pundits and pollsters, Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump has maintained his lead over party rivals even as Democrat Hillary Clinton has widened hers over key challenger Bernie Sanders.
Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who was in a virtual tie with real estate mogul Trump four weeks ago has dropped to third place behind Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, according to a Quinnipiac University National poll released Wednesday.
Trump got 27 percent of Republican voters - ten points ahead of Rubio. Carson and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas got 16 percent each, while former Florida Governor Jeb Bush could get only 5 percent. No other candidate topped 3 percent, with 8 percent undecided.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton widened her lead over Vermont senator Sanders to 60 - 30 percent, compared to 53 - 35 percent in a Nov 4 Quinnipiac survey. Former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley had 2 percent, with 6 percent undecided.
Among Republicans, 26 percent of voters say they "would definitely not support" Trump, with 21 percent who would not back Bush.
"It doesn't seem to matter what he says or who he offends, whether the facts are contested or the 'political correctness' is challenged, Donald Trump seems to be wearing Kevlar," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.
"Dr. Ben Carson, moving to centre stage just one month ago, now needs some CPR. The Doctor sinks. The Donald soars. The GOP (Grand Old Party as the Republican Party is referred to), 11 months from the election, has to be thinking, 'This could be the guy.'
"Secretary Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders have to be hoping Trump is the GOP's guy."
American voters shifted to Clinton as the Democrat gained ground against Republicans with the former first lady leading 47 - 41 percent over Trump, compared to 46 - 43 percent on Nov 4.
She also leads 45-44 percent over Rubio compared to latter's 46 - 41 percent lead over her last month. Similarly she leads Cruz 47 - 42 percent and Carson 46-43 percent.
Sanders did just as well, or even better, against top Republicans in topping Trump 49 - 41 percent, Rubio 44-43 percent, Cruz 49 - 39 percent and Carson 47 - 41 percent.
However, American voters say 60 - 36 percent that Clinton is not honest and trustworthy. Trump is not honest and trustworthy, voters say 59 - 35 percent.
Sanders got the best honesty grades among top candidates, 59 - 28 percent, with Carson at 53 - 34 percent, Rubio at 49 - 33 percent and Cruz at 43 - 39 percent.
All American voters said 63 - 32 percent, including 69 - 27 percent among independent voters, that Clinton would have a good chance of beating the Republican nominee in a head-to- head matchup.
Voters were divided 46 - 49 percent on whether Trump would have a good chance of beating the Democratic nominee, with independent voters divided 47 - 48 percent.