Party identification shift may hobble Trump

So what do we make of these potential voters in early September? When asked “if you had to choose,” two-thirds expressed a preference, and among those pressed to make a decision, Clinton won, 39 percent to 24 percent.

In short, this means that in early September, the “up for grabs” segment of the electorate, if it were to vote, would give Clinton some needed support.

The 36 percent who did not answer the “if you had to vote” question are distinct from the overall sample in their utter dislike of both candidates. When you put a gun to their heads, they don’t budge much: They tend to characterize Clinton as dishonest and insincere, and Trump as unqualified for the job and as someone who does not understand the problems of average people. Given these negative views toward both candidates, it would seem to take some extraordinary event or events to move these potential voters toward either major candidate.

In sum, it appears that Democrats have an even bigger advantage than they did in 2012 because their margin over Republicans has increased. That’s the good news for Democrats. The bad news is Clinton has not yet sealed the deal with weak and leaning Democrats—and these are voters who are extremely familiar with her and the Clinton brand. Unless and until she reaches Obama’s 90 percent-plus of Democrats in 2012, the race will remain fluid.