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Poll says Trump just gets stronger in North Carolina

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Tulsa, Okla., Wednesday, Jan. 20. (Brandi Simons)

A new poll released by Public Policy Polling finds that Donald Trump just grows stronger in the Tar Heel state.

Not only has Trump increased his support, according to the liberal-leaning polling agency, he also has the highest favorability rating of any candidate.

Trump leads the GOP presidential candidates with 38 percent to 16 percent for Ted Cruz, 11 percent for Marco Rubio, 8 percent for Ben Carson, 6 percent each for Mike Huckabee and Jeb Bush, 4 percent for Chris Christie, 3 percent each for Carly Fiorina and Rand Paul, 2 percent for John Kasich, and 1 percent for Rick Santorum.



Trump's support is up 5 points from a month ago when he was at 33 percent. The only other candidate who's seen a real gain in their support is Huckabee, who's climbed from 2 percent to 6 percent.

Ben Carson has taken a notable drop, from 14 percent to 8 percent.

Trump's favorability rating is 62 percent, with 30 percent having a negative opinion of the bombastic candidate. No one else has over a 60 percent favorability, with Huckabee coming closest at 58 percent (with a 21 percent negative rating).

Trump's supporters also seem the most committed, with 65 percent saying they will definitely vote for him compared to 54 percent for Rubio, 50 percent for Cruz, 38 percent for Huckabee, and 33 percent each for Bush and Carson among the top candidates in the state.

Cruz does continue to be well positioned as the next in line should Trump falter. He's the most frequent second choice of GOP voters in the state with 18 percent to 12 percent for Rubio.

Among Trump voters 25 percent say Cruz is their second choice to 13 percent for Carson.

RELATED: See full poll results here

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton remains dominant in the state with 59 percent t0 26 percent for Bernie Sanders, and 5 percent for Martin O'Malley. The North Carolina numbers speak to the demographic advantages that may cause things to work out fine for Clinton even if she does struggle in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Among black voters, which are about a third of the primary electorate in North Carolina, Clinton leads Sanders 77 percent to 12. That overwhelming advantage with black voters should make the South a very strong region for Clinton as the race moves to its states. Clinton is also benefiting from having much more committed support- 78 percent of her supporters say they are definitely going to vote for her, compared to 50 percent of Sanders' who say the same.

RELATED: Click here for past ABC11 stories on PPP polls.

Republicans are favored for the general election in North Carolina. Marco Rubio does the best against Hillary Clinton, leading her 47 percent to 42 percent. Carson leads Clinton 47-44, Cruz leads her 46-43, and Bush and Trump each have 45-43 advantages. The GOP field all leads Bernie Sanders as well.

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