For purposes of this Quinnipiac poll, we’re going to pretend that Pennsylvania is actually a swing state and not one that’s going to go Democratic by five points.
Compare and contrast:
The next time you read something about how Biden doesn’t really bring anything to the table that Hillary isn’t already bringing, there’s your counter. The good news for Hillary fans is that she’s still highly competitive with various Republican challengers in these swing states despite the fact that pretty much everyone agrees at this point that she’s a shameless, shady liar. She leads Trump head to head by a few points in each of them. She leads Fiorina and Carson in Florida and trails native sons Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio by just a point. The only state where she does more than a bit worse than the Republican is Pennsylvania, which everyone expects her to win anyway. Democrats are fully prepared to elect another corrupt Clinton in the name of keeping a conservative out of the White House.
The bad news for Hillary fans is that Biden does better than she does against all major Republican challengers, leading Bush, Rubio, Fiorina, and Trump in all three states. (He leads Trump, in fact, by double digits in all three.) Maybe that’s a byproduct of public sympathy for Biden that’ll fade once he’s in the race and taking hard shots from Hillary, but it’s a fact on the ground right now. Another fact: Honesty isn’t the only leadership metric in which Hillary polls badly. Here’s another disaster in the making.
With the sole exception of Donald Trump, no other candidate fared as badly on the “cares about you” question, one of Obama’s key strengths against Romney in 2012. Why Hillary does so poorly on that metric isn’t clear, but it’s an interesting question. Is it a pure wealth thing? Hard to believe that’s true: I’d bet Bill Clinton, despite having the same net worth as Her Majesty, would do swimmingly. Is it a byproduct of her server scandal? I.e. because she chose to put national security at risk by going off the grid with a private server, the public’s now convinced that she places her own needs above theirs? Could be, although I think this question is more a test of personality and the empathy that an individual candidate appears to feel rather than some abstract conclusion about their misdeeds as a public official. Hillary’s putting out the vibe of personal warmth about as strongly as she’s putting out the vibe of honesty and integrity.
As for Trump, this poll’s a lot like yesterday’s PPP poll in that the topline numbers for him are good while the other fundamentals are … less good. He still leads the GOP field in all three swing states with 28 percent in Florida (a 12-point lead), 23 percent in Ohio (a five-point lead), and 23 percent in Pennsylvania (a six-point lead). Even his numbers on the “who would you definitely NOT vote for?” question aren’t bad. He leads the GOP field in all three states on that metric, but with 29, 29, and 31 percent, respectively. The vast majority of Republicans are open to voting for him. Trump’s problem here comes not from his numbers in the primary but his numbers in the general, when Democrats and independents are included in the sample. At -20 or worse in each state, he has the worst favorable ratings of any top-tier candidate tested, Democrat or Republican. He’s the only major contender tested who trails Hillary, Biden, and Bernie Sanders in all three states (although only Biden has a significant advantage over him). His numbers on most presidential metrics, as noted above, are abysmal. He does very well when voters are asked if he has “strong leadership qualities,” with 59 percent or better in each state saying yes, but on honesty, “cares about you,” right kind of experience, and proper temperament, he’s terrible.
Trump’s nemesis, Jeb Bush, is at 52 percent or better on the temperament question and at 60 percent or better on the experience question. This is another reason to think the race will get harder for him as we get closer to Iowa: The more undecideds start factoring in “electability,” the more that cuts against Trump.