Who Wins When a U.S. Presidential Candidate Drops Out?

Knowing a voter’s second choice for president might say more about the future of the race than asking them for their first.

Rick Wilking / Reuters
Every poll trumpets its top-line figures. But some also ask respondents for their second-choice preferences, or the politician voters would pick if their No. 1 candidate dropped out.
In a race where there’s no prize for second place, this may seem a useless statistic. But with a crowded field that seems bound to narrow, it gives a glimpse of how the race may evolve. What does it mean, for instance, if a major portion of Jeb Bush’s supporters say they’d switch to Carly Fiorina if he threw in the towel?
Using data from the latest survey fielded by the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the graphic below allows you to pick the next 2016 drop-out and see how the numbers would shake out, according to the poll’s respondents.
there is a graphic here, delete it at your own risk
It appears that no departure from the field, save his own, currently threatens Trump’s first-place standing. Indeed, he stands to benefit the most should either of his two closest rivals drop out.
And that bit above about Jeb Bush and Carly Fiorina wasn’t in jest: Though his support would flow to six candidates if he exited the race, a plurality would land with the former Hewlett-Packard executive.
Necessary caveat: Polls, and this tool, are subject to margins of error. Use this graphic for determining betting odds at your own risk.