Allen B. West

BREAKING: As voting begins, new poll has TERRIBLE news for GOP establishment

Well, we shall see how the “collusion” between Ted Cruz and John Kasich works out starting tonight with primaries in Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Maryland. There are a total of 172 delegates available and of those 118 are pledged.

But an NBC/Survey Monkey poll shows Trump has reached the magic 50 percent support threshold nationally from Republicans and Republican-leaners for the first time since the beginning of the NBC News|SurveyMonkey Weekly Election Tracking Poll in late December.

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This milestone is significant as the 2016 primary heads into its final few weeks of contests, as there has been intense speculation that Trump’s support has a ceiling. Though his support has hovered in the high 40s since mid-March, the front-runner had yet to secure half of Republican voters.

These results are according to the latest NBC News|SurveyMonkey Weekly Election Tracking poll conducted online from April 18 to April 24 of 10,707 adults aged 18 and over, including 9,405 registered voters.

Support for Trump among most demographic groups has remained consistent in this week’s tracking poll compared to previous weeks. However, when just looking at Republicans, excluding independents who lean toward the Republican Party, he now enjoys 49 percent support compared to 43 percent last week. This 6-point gain is important, as Trump usually does well among independents, but has struggled to win over more traditional Republicans so far. Support for both John Kasich (15 percent) and Ted Cruz (28 percent) is down among Republicans compared to the past few weeks.

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Overall, this week’s 6-point swing — Trump up 4 points, Cruz and Kasich down 2 points — is the biggest weekly shift in the poll so far. Combined with his significant win in New York, Trump’s rise nationally could be an early sign of consolidation within the Republican Party.

Now, regarding tonight’s contest, ABC News points out polls show Donald Trump’s holding commanding leads in Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Maryland. Ted Cruz acknowledged Monday that tonight will be a good night for Trump. But his objective, along with Kasich, is to stop the front-runner from sweeping all 118 pledged delegates. The only state that is completely winner-take-all is Delaware, with 16 delegates.

If Trump wins Pennsylvania, the biggest prize, he will get all 17 at-large delegates, but there are 54 that are still unbound — prime wooing opportunities for Kasich and Cruz.

One thing is for darn certain, we’ve all learned WAY more than we ever knew about our arcane election process. Either it’s never mattered before, or we never cared. Well, this time, it really matters, and boy, do folks care.

[Note: This article was written by Michele Hickford]

Notice anything curious about TIME's Trump cover? Take a good look...

Notice anything curious about TIME's Trump cover? Take a good look...

UNREAL: What OSU terrorist was doing before attack is beyond IRONIC...

UNREAL: What OSU terrorist was doing before attack is beyond IRONIC...