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Poll: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have huge, commanding leads over their fields

: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets guests following a campaign rally at the Madison City Schools Stadium on February 28, 2016, in Madison, Alabama.
: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets guests following a campaign rally at the Madison City Schools Stadium on February 28, 2016, in Madison, Alabama.
Scott Olson/Getty Images

A new CNN/ORC poll of voters nationwide confirms what we already knew: A day ahead of Super Tuesday, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump stand head and shoulders above the rest of their respective competitors.

On the Republican side, Donald Trump garnered fully 49 percent of Republican support, with Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz trailing him at 16 percent and 15 percent, respectively. This is Trump’s best showing yet in a CNN national poll, and his support now is greater than that of the next three competitors combined.

Still, it's worth noting that Trump's support, as measured by CNN, might be overblown. Though Trump indisputably holds the top position across national polls, his lead currently sits at about an average of 16 points, according to the RealClearPolitics average.

Among the Democrats CNN polled, Clinton now leads Sen. Bernie Sanders 55 percent to 38 percent, a slightly wider margin than in the last such national poll, taken before the first four nominating contests. While Clinton’s lead is not as dramatic as Trump’s, she does hold a strong lead in the delegate count – a lead that’s poised to grow with upcoming contests.

Normally, national polls of presidential races don’t hold much water, since voters cast ballots by state and their preferences can swing wildly by geography. But it’s worth taking note of the large gaps between the top nominees and their closest contenders in this poll, as 12 states are set to vote in tomorrow’s Super Tuesday primaries.

In the first four states, candidates by and large placed their resources in local outreach, meeting voters and sending surrogates to knock on every voter’s door. But once the race hits Super Tuesday, too many states will hold contests at once, and it’s impossible for candidates to pour as many resources into each individual state.

For that reason, national headwinds are important, because they shape the media narratives that voters pay attention to. If voters believe that Clinton and Trump are more or less unstoppable – and this poll lends credence to that idea – they are more likely to flock to those candidates, perpetuating the cycle.

Go deeper:

  • Vox’s Andrew Prokop lays out the delegate math of Trump’s likely wins on Tuesday. If Trump wins big, Prokop writes, he will hold a prohibitive delegate lead.
  • Vox’s German Lopez explains why Bernie Sanders’s loss in South Carolina is not an anomaly – and why he’s likely in for more on Tuesday.
  • For those holding out for Trump to fizzle out, the Upshot calculated how, exactly, Marco Rubio can lose every Super Tuesday state and still win the nomination.

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