The primaries for both parties take a turn northeast tomorrow, with five states ready to weigh in on the presidential election. On the Republican side, a polling consensus shows Donald Trump ready to have a big night, even as Ted Cruz and John Kasich announce an anti-Trump alliance. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton only has Bernie Sanders standing between her and the nomination — but a new poll by Democratic pollster PPP suggests he may be more than she can handle:
New Public Policy Polling surveys in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island conducted on behalf of VoteVets.Org Action Fund find the Democratic race for President in those states competitive, while on the Republican side Donald Trump is headed for blowout victories across the board.
The Democratic races in Connecticut and Rhode Island appear to be toss ups, with Clinton and Sanders each having a slight advantage in one of the states. In Connecticut Clinton has a narrow edge at 48/46, thanks in large part to a 63/24 advantage among African Americans. In Rhode Island it’s Sanders who has a 49/45 lead. Clinton’s up 54/40 with actual Democrats there, but Sanders is up 67/28 among independents planning to vote in the Democratic primary and that gives him the overall lead. Clinton has a wider lead in Pennsylvania at 51/41, although that still represents a closer race than most public polls have shown over the last few weeks.
What should have Democrats most worried is Hillary’s performance among women. In Connecticut, she only leads Sanders among women by four points, 48/44. She does better in Pennsylvania at 56/32, but Hillary’s back to a four-point advantage in Rhode Island at 49/45. Basically, the vote among women appears to mainly reflect the consensus in these states rather than drive outcomes — and that’s among Democratic primary voters. Democratic hopes that Hillary can use women to drive a general-election outcome seem ill-founded.
On the other hand, PPP’s data might give Democrats some relief from anxiety about age demographics. She’s viewed positively by 18-45YO Democratic primary voters, although not enthusiastically so (50/40 in CT, 60/26 in PA, 52/35 in RI) even while Sanders generally outperforms her among these voters. Keep a couple of caveats in mind, however. First, the age demo in the PPP poll is pretty wide; Barack Obama drove his coalition with the energy of under-30 voters. Also, these are Democratic primary voters, not general-election voters, although Republicans generally don’t do well in that demographic in any case. If they aren’t enthusiastic about Hillary, then they won’t tend to turn out and especially volunteer for GOTV activities. That will be a problem in the general election, and not just in the presidential race.
PPP also polled Republicans in tomorrow’s contests. Those surveys showed no surprises:
Things aren’t nearly so competitive on the Republican side, with Donald Trump getting a majority of voters in each state. He’s strongest in Rhode Island where he gets 61% to 23% for John Kasich, and 13% for Ted Cruz. The numbers are very similar in Connecticut with Trump getting 59% to 25% for Kasich, and 13% for Cruz. Things are a little bit different in Pennsylvania where Trump’s share of the vote isn’t as high (51%) and Cruz edges out Kasich 25/22 for second place. None of these states are particularly amenable to the ‘Never Trump’ movement. Trump has the highest favorability rating of the GOP candidates in each state, and also handily wins head to head match ups with Cruz and Kasich in all three states. One thing that comes across in all these places is how unpopular Cruz is- he’s way under water even with Republican primary voters.
Let’s not forget that these are states where Republicans traditionally are not competitive in the general election, so the impact on November from favorability ratings will be minimal. That’s not true of the Democrats in these states, though … which is why they should be worried about nominating Hillary, and why they’re probably hoping that Republicans shoot themselves in the foot.