Q-poll: Clinton, Trump lead nat'l primary race - but Kasich, Sanders do best in November

If today’s poll from Quinnipiac is to be believed, both major parties are well on their way to ensuring a low-turnout election in November — or perhaps a high turnout of people voting against someone. In their national survey, both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton enjoy healthy leads over rivals within their own party’s voters, but also healthy skepticism in general election matchups. They are the two most unpopular choices for voters when it comes to casting the final ballot.


The GOP side of the survey shows Trump with 43%, while Ted Cruz gets 29% and John Kasich gets 16%. Even combined, the non-Trump candidates get only to a virtual tie with Trump, calling into question the idea that Cruz can overtake Trump in a one-on-one race. Trump wins almost every demographic; Cruz edges him with “very conservative” voters, but not by much at 47/42. Kasich does best with college-educated and moderate-to-liberal Republicans at 28% for both demos, but Trump beats him in both, especially with 40% in the latter. One interesting note: Cruz appeals equally to Republican men and women, 29/28 respectively. So does Trump, 45/40.

Perhaps some of those voters will shift to Cruz if Kasich pulls out, but more of them go to Trump. Quinnipiac asked that question, and found that Kasich voters split 46/37 in favor of Trump. And second choice among Cruz voters is also Trump, by a much wider 56/25 split.

Hillary Clinton continues to lead Bernie Sanders 50/38, and the delegate chase makes her victory all but certain. (The only ambiguity is whether she gets indicted before the convention.) In the Q-poll head-to-heads, Hillary only beats Trump outside the margin of error, while Kasich ends up as the most competitive Republican in the field:

  • Clinton tops Trump 46 – 40 percent;
  • Clinton gets 45 percent to 42 percent for Cruz;
  • Kasich tops Clinton 47 – 39 percent;
  • Sanders beats Trump 52 – 38 percent;
  • Sanders tops Cruz 50 – 39 percent;
  • Kasich gets 45 percent to Sanders’ 44 percent.

Why do the party leaders do so poorly? In large part, it’s because voters have such low opinions of them:

Trump and Clinton top the “no way” list as 54 percent of American voters say they “would definitely not” vote for Trump, with 43 percent saying no to Clinton, 33 percent nixing Cruz, 27 percent saying no to Sanders and 14 percent saying no to Kasich.

“Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton may have the overall leads among primary voters, but there is not a lot of love in the room as a big percentage of Americans say of the front- runners they could take ’em or leave ’em,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. “Though short on delegates and short on time, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Gov. John Kasich can hang their hats on the fact that if folks went to the polls today, they’d fare better than the other candidates.”

The demos on this question are revealing. Trump leads Hillary in the “never” category in almost every demo except Republicans, seniors, white men and white voters overall. Men overall split almost evenly between Trump and Clinton (48/47, respectively) as “nevers,” but women are toughr on Trump, 60/40. Bear in mind that this is not a binary question; 40% of women overall say that they can never vote for Hillary, period. But even where Trump is considered to have particular strength — white voters — 47% says “definitely not” to Trump, with 50% saying no to Hillary. That’s not much of an advantage in a general election, especially when 74% of non-white voters say “never” to Trump.


Let’s take a look at the more positive binary scenario of a Trump-Clinton matchup with that demo in mind. Trump wins the white vote, but only by 46/39. Romney won it 59/39 in 2012 on his way to an overall loss. Kasich does better at 56/30, and even Cruz improves on Trump’s performance with a 51/36 split. The Q-poll doesn’t include income demos, but it does split on college degrees. Once more, Trump doesn’t show much difference with his presumed blue-collar base; he edges Hillary 43/41, while Cruz gets a 46/40 lead and Kasich wins 48/36.

At least in this poll, there seems to be little evidence that Trump will motivate the white working-class voters in a general election. Without that, the Rust Belt path won’t work, and the traditional key swing states of Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia will all tip blue. That should have Republicans considering some second thoughts on the nomination.

Update: There is one important caveat to this, which is that the demos matter more in the states on which that path is built. For instance, Trump can be as unpopular with white working-class voters in California as possible because he’ll have no chance of winning it anyway. But if he’s scoring well in those demos in Pennsylvania and Michigan, then it’s a different story. With this poll, though, there is no evidence that any such impulse exists.


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