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Donald Trump extends Republican lead in buildup to Arizona preference election

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Fayetteville, N.C., Wednesday, March 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

PHOENIX — Presidential hopeful Donald Trump has extended his lead with Republicans in Arizona as the state readies for its preference election later this month, a poll found.

“With early voting already underway in Arizona, Donald Trump leads with both those voters that have already cast ballots as well as among those that are still planning on voting,” Mike Noble with public affairs consulting firm MBQF, the agency behind the poll, said.

The poll of 750 Arizona Republican voters found 37.3 percent support Trump in Arizona’s March 22 presidential preferential election. Last month, the same agency said 34.8 percent of voters backed Trump.

Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio traded spots in the latest poll. Last month, 22.7 percent of voters said they backed the Florida senator and 14.1 percent supported Cruz.

This month, 23.3 percent of voters said they are supporting Cruz, while Rubio’s support has fallen to a lowly 11.6 percent. He trails John Kasich, who was polling at 14.6 percent.

“Trump has consistently been in the 34-40 percent range for months,” Noble said. “We’ve seen other candidates support increase or decrease depending on their good days and bad days and other candidates dropping out of the race and their support gravitating to other folks.”

In addition to the ballot test, MBQF also asked if Republicans thought the party’s best days were ahead of them or behind them.

“The survey found that the majority of those supporting Donald Trump and Ted Cruz felt the party’s best days were ahead of them while those supporting Marco Rubio and John Kasich felt the opposite,” Noble said.

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