After a bad week filled with undisciplined attacks on a Gold Star family and internecine fighting with the GOP, Team Trump appeared to right the ship by week’s end. Donald Trump endorsed a trio of major Republican officeholders in a carefully delivered speech, and the campaign itself signaled that message discipline would improve immediately by hitting Hillary Clinton on her presumed weak points. According to a new Morning Consult poll out this morning, most of those weak points have temporarily disappeared:
A new poll by Morning Consult shows that voters definitively prefer Clinton to Trump when it comes to nuclear weapons. When given a choice, almost half of respondents (46 percent) say they trust Clinton rather than Trump to handle the country’s nuclear arms. Less than one-third of voters (31 percent) say they trust Trump with nuclear weapons, while 23 percent don’t know or have no opinion.
Voters also say they trust Clinton (44 percent) more than Trump (39 percent) to handle the country’s overall national security, although the margins are tighter.
Even terrorism, which most assumed would play most strongly for Trump, has become a toss-up:
On terrorism, voters are split, with 42 percent saying they trust Trump to handle it better and 41 percent saying they trust Clinton.
Morning Consult provides this graphic for the toplines on trust:
Note that the pollster asked the question in relation to trust. Hillary has had big problems on trustworthiness measures in polling ever since the e-mail scandal broke wide open in February 2015. Even so, it doesn’t dent her competitive position vis-a-vis Trump. That should also concern Republicans as the general election campaign gets fully under way.
The conventional wisdom is that national security, terrorism, and the economy would be strong suits for Trump. He’s within range on all three, but trailing at this stage is a concern, especially on the economy and job creation. Trump’s running as the super-successful businessman who can uncork American job creation, while Hillary’s offering a rehash of Barack Obama’s economic proposals:
The stimulus program “was riddled with a massive labor scheme that harmed workers and cheated unsuspecting American taxpayers,” they reported in September 2014. Contractors “avoided state and federal taxes and undercut law-abiding competitors,” while “they exploited workers desperate for jobs, depriving them of unemployment benefits and often workers’ compensation insurance.” By the time the failures and frauds were uncovered, though, it was far too late to salvage any of the borrowed cash that fueled the stimulus program.
Two years after that discovery, however, Clinton wants to offer a rerun. The very first bullet point on her campaign-website jobs plan promises to “Launch our country’s boldest investments in infrastructure since the construction of our interstate highway system in the 1950s.” That’s exactly what Obama promised, and failed to deliver.
Clinton wants to spend $300 billion over five years on transportation infrastructure alone, Newman notes. That was also the target of Obama’s “shovel-ready” stimulus spending, only twice as much as allocated in 2009.
One possible reason voters are responding better to Hillary than Trump: she’s talking about her specific proposals, and he spent last week talking about the Khans. That’s a temporary problem, though, and hopefully has already come to an end. Another potential bright spot is the large number of undecided voters in each of these categories. Given Hillary’s long track record in the public sector, one would guess that Trump has more upside among these voters than she does, unless he becomes so off-putting that he can no longer persuade the persuadables.
With 92 days left to go in the election, Trump has to start working these issues much more effectively now. If he and his campaign learned their lesson from last week, Team Trump still has time to succeed.