Quinnipiac’s new national presidential poll shows tightening of race
Nearly three weeks ago, Democrat Hillary Clinton was characterized by many readers of national presidential polls as pulling away from Republican Donald Trump, with the Quinnipiac University Poll, like many other polls, showing Clinton with a sizable lead among likely voters.
On Wednesday, a new Quinnipiac poll shows Clinton’s 10 percentage-point lead in late August is now down to 5 percentage points.
Independent voters appear to be the biggest reason for the Trump turnaround: he was down 41 – 46 percent with that voting bloc in August, and he’s now up 45 – 40 percent.
And when third party candidates (Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein) were included, the Aug. 25 poll showed a 7 percentage-point lead for Clinton. With Johnson and Stein included, the new Sept. 14 poll gives Clinton a 41 – 39 percent lead over Trump, which is within the poll’s plus or minus 3.2 percentage-point margin of error.
Both the August and September polls have the same distribution of respondents by party identification, although August’s results were based on responses from 538 more likely voters (1,498 total) and had a smaller margin of error (+/- 2.5 percentage points).
As with past polls, the results are punctuated by how much both candidates are disliked.
The ongoing unpopularity contest sees Trump with a negative favorability rating of 35 – 59 percent, and Clinton having a slightly better, if one can call being a little less unpopular “better,” rating of 40 – 57 percent.
And that feeds the poll’s illustration of respondents’ sentiment that they are more often voting against a candidate than for one: 54 percent of Clinton voters say they mainly are voting against Trump (32 percent said they are mainly voting for Clinton), while 66 percent of Trump voters are mainly are voting against Clinton (23 percent said they are voting mainly for Trump).
“It’s the definition of ‘damned by faint praise,’ a presidential contest where a vote for a candidate is less an endorsement of that candidate than a stinging rejection of his or her opponent, said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.
Other results provide even more clarity to voter dissatisfaction with the two candidates.
Significant majorities of respondents said they believe it’s important for the candidate to be someone to whom Americans can relate and who will unite the country. However, significant majorities said neither candidate checks off those boxes.
“Priority one for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as the election looms: lure the cynical, disaffected, downright disgusted electorate into their camp,” said Malloy. “That’s no mean feat as clouds of distrust loom over both campaigns.”
The poll was conducted from Sept. 8 through Sept. 13, surveying 960 likely voters nationwide with live interviewers calling both landlines and cell phones.