Nearly one-fifth of registered Republicans want Donald Trump to drop out of the race for the White House, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Wednesday, reflecting the turmoil his candidacy has sown within his party.
Some 19 percent think the New York real estate magnate should drop out, 70 percent think he should stay in and 10 percent say they "don't know," according to the Aug. 5-8 poll of 396 registered Republicans. The poll has a confidence interval of six percentage points.
Among all registered voters, some 44 percent want Trump to drop out. That is based on a survey of 1,162 registered voters, with a confidence interval of 3 percentage points. That is 9 points higher than his support for the presidency in the latest Reuters/Ipsos tracking poll registered on Monday.
The figures underscored deep divisions within the Republican Party over Trump's candidacy. A number of prominent Republicans have declined to endorse him in the Nov. 8 election against Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, citing his fiery rhetoric and policy proposals such as building a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border and temporarily banning Muslims from entering the country.
Trump found himself embroiled in yet another controversy on Tuesday after saying at a rally that gun rights activists could act to stop Clinton from nominating liberal U.S. Supreme Court justices - a comment his campaign said was misinterpreted, but that Clinton's campaign called "dangerous."
"If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do folks," Trump said at the rally at the University of North Carolina. "Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know," he continued. The U.S. Constitution's Second Amendment guarantees a right to keep and bear arms.
He had previously stirred criticism for engaging in a spat with the parents of a Muslim U.S. soldier killed in Iraq. Republican Senator Susan Collins said on Monday that dispute led her to announce she would not vote for Trump.
In addition, 50 prominent national security experts signed an open letter saying they would not vote for Trump in the fall, saying he "lacks the character, values, and experience" to be president. Trump dismissed the group as part of the Washington establishment that he blames for many of the United States' problems.
To be sure, neither Trump nor Clinton enjoys great popularity. Some 53 percent of Americans have an unfavorable view of Clinton, who has been accused of mishandling her emails as secretary of state, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling.
Nearly 63 percent have an unfavorable view of Trump.
Clinton led Trump by more than 7 percentage points in a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Tuesday, up from a less than 3-percentage-point lead late last week.
(Reporting by Grant Smith in New York; Writing by Richard Valdmanis in Boston; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)