Let the swing state battles begin! With the nominations for both major parties all but clinched, the pollsters will start turning their full attention to the general-election matchups, especially in the states that will decide the contest. Quinnipiac keeps its options open in its polls of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania by adding Bernie Sanders to the mix, but the main event is the Hillary Clinton-Donald Trump matchups — and right now it’s basically a dead heat:
In a race marked by wide gender, age and racial gaps, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are running neck and neck in the key presidential Swing States of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, but Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont runs stronger against the likely Republican nominee, according to a Quinnipiac University Swing State Poll released today.
Clinton and Trump both have negative favorability ratings among voters in each state, compared to Sanders’ split score, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University Poll finds. The Swing State Poll focuses on Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania because since 1960 no candidate has won the presidential race without taking at least two of these three states.
The presidential matchups show:
- Florida – Clinton at 43 percent, with 42 percent for Trump and Sanders at 44 percent to Trump’s 42 percent;
- Ohio – Trump edges Clinton 43 – 39 percent, while Sanders gets 43 percent to Trump’s 41 percent;
- Pennsylvania – Clinton at 43 percent to Trump’s 42 percent, while Sanders leads Trump 47 – 41 percent.
A couple of these have notable differences from the head-to-head polling already in the field. The RCP average put Hillary up 4.3 point in Florida, not too far off from the one point advantage here. In Ohio, however, the RCP average has Hillary up three while the new Q-poll puts Trump up four, and Pennsylvania’s RCP average has Hillary up seven points rather than the virtual tie seen here.
The big finish in the Republican race may explain the boost for Trump, but he may have trouble sustaining it, or perhaps more accurately, it may not be enough to last past Hillary’s big finish. Trump has an advantage in that the GOP field has departed from the race, and that Republican voters have already started to coalesce behind their nominee, while Democrats have not yet begun that process. PPP noted that dynamic in its new national poll (to be released later this morning) that has Hillary up four.
Even if that’s the case, the bounce isn’t very significant. In Pennsylvania, Trump didn’t get a bump at all, as the previous Q-poll also had him at 42%, and in Ohio, the change came from a Hillary drop rather than a Trump bump. Trump’s 43% is almost identical to his RCP average of 42.5%, but Hillary dropped from 45.5% in the average to 39%, the lowest rating in head-to-head Ohio match-ups. The previous Q-poll in Ohio had Trump at 44%. Hillary has the same problem in Florida, dropping more than three points below her RCP average while Trump just about hit it on the head.
The negative shifts may be the easiest to explain with Hillary and Donald. The biggest wild card in this race is the negative way in which voters see both of them. Their favorable ratings are almost identical to each other, and in fact are identical in Florida, 37/57. Trump has an advantage in Ohio with his -19 favorability rating, as opposed to Hillary’s -28, which may explain Trump’s sudden lead in the Buckeye State. But again, Trump may be benefiting from the end of the primary fight, and Hillary’s numbers are probably being pulled down by Bernie’s supporters remaining bitterly opposed to her nomination … until Sanders concedes, at which point Hillary’s numbers will come up, mainly in ballot support if not favorability.
Still, the high negatives for both candidates — and their universal name recognition — throws a bit of a monkey wrench into expectations. Neither of them will have a renaissance with voters, a “reintroduction” that allows them to redefine themselves. If Hillary remains this unfavorable and Trump can reduce the points of friction with specific voter communities, then it might be tough for Hillary to stay ahead. It may come down to which candidate can best unite their party, and whether both candidates drive enough other voters out of the voting station through sheer disgust to tilt the election one way or the other.