Host of "Meet the Press" Chuck Todd breaks down the results of a new NBC/WSJ poll.
CHUCK TODD: In our new NBC - Wall Street Journal poll [of Republican candidates] we also asked "who would you choose if the race narrowed down to just these five candidates?" Well, here's what we found. The race narrows to three lanes, take a look. In lane one, the establishment lane, Bush and Rubio, their totals add up to about 30 percent.
Cruz and Carson, their lane of evangelical, Christian conservatives, they add up to about 37 percent.
Then there's the Trump lane, all of its own. He hits 30 percent.
So what distinguishes these lanes? Well when it comes to the establishment lane, it's education. Here, Bush and Rubio. 56 percent of their combined supporters have a college degree. Let's go to the evangelical lane. In that second one, the Carson and Cruz voters, 56 percent of their voters attend church weekly. That is probably the biggest distinguishing characteristic.
Now, let's go to Trump. Because in this third and final lane it appears to be a new force in the Republican party, at least when it comes to Primary politics. For instance 64 percent of his supporters didn't attend college. Sort of the polar opposite of the establishment lane. Then you've got this fact, 61 percent of his supporters do not attend church weekly. Again, opposite of the evangelical way.
There's one more distinguishing characteristic worth pointing out. This is sort of a blue collar vote. Again, that hasn't been a force in Republican primaries before. 54 percent of Trump supporters earn less than 75,000 dollars a year. So the question is, to get the nomination somebody is going to have to succeed in uniting at least two of these three lanes.
Who's got the best shot at that? Right now you might say it could be Ted Cruz. We shall see, it's something to watch for...
Reaction from the panel:
CHUCK TODD: It's for three or four days. And that is this oxygen for Trump and the fear of the Republicans. They're afraid of him attacking them.
HELENE COOPER: They are, they are, because they're also afraid of alienating the people who support him.
CHUCK TODD: Right.
HELENE COOPER: Because those people, they all believe, are going to be up for grabs when what they believe is going to be the inevitable happens and Trump doesn't win the nomination, they want to make sure that they've got his voters. It's so interesting watching how the Republicans navigate this, because I think the party seems to have moved to the right as a whole, anyway.
And now, it's almost as if there's this quandary at the heart of the party of how far to the right. I mean, can they embrace these voters and still win a general election?
MOLLY BALL: No if you look at who is supporting Trump though, no, in the polls, I mean, Trump is getting most of his support from Republicans who consider themselves moderates or liberals. It is not the hard right that is supporting Trump, it's not the--
CHUCK TODD: Well it's a new group, it's a new group of people.
MOLLY BALL: He's not ideologically conservative. Yeah, it is a new group of people, it's most largely identity-based, I think.
CHUCK TODD: Yeah.
MOLLY BALL: It's demographic-based. But it is not the right, per se. And you're right about the Republican Party overall, but it is not the hard right of the party, the Tea Party or what have you, that's really powering Trump.
JERRY SEIB: No, among those groups, Tea Party voters, talk radio listeners, social values voters, Ted Cruz is winning those people. Donald Trump is not winning those people. There's a different kind of populace and they call themselves more moderate than conservative part of the party, that's where his strength is right now.