All of those stories predicting that Donald Trump will lose to Hillary Clinton in an historic defeat of biblical proportions may still come true, but the early numbers don’t seem to indicate that Secretary Clinton’s supporters are ready to surf such a wave quite yet. The latest Morning Consult poll is out and is showing slow but steady movement in the same direction as the previous two weeks since the race seemed to come down to the two final contenders. And that direction can’t be bringing any comfort to the Clinton camp. (Editor’s note: Link fixed. Mea Culpa)
Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton has maintained generally comfortable leads over the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump, in a potential general-election matchup. But new survey data from Morning Consult indicates that deficit is closing fast.
According to a national poll of almost 4,000 registered voters taken last week, Clinton leads Trump by just 42 percent to 40 percent, within the 2-point margin of error. She is down 2 percent from a week ago, while Trump gained 2 points. Nearly one out of five voters (17 percent) remain undecided.
Hillary has dropped from 45 to 42 in a period of two weeks while Trump has essentially held steady. (As a side note, the NBC / Survey Monkey poll which came out at the same time has Clinton leading by essentially the same margin, 48 to 45.) Given the sky high name recognition both of these candidates have it’s somewhat amazing that the undecided vote is so high. Sure, it’s early in the general election, but we’re talking about almost one in five voters who can’t yet say which way they’ll go. If anything, this represents an opportunity for both of the candidates if they can manage to change things up and do something to start pushing those on the fence over to their side.
The only other feature of this week’s numbers to note is one which may have Hillary’s primary supporters experiencing some buyer’s remorse. I’m sure you’ve noticed the endless string of claims by Bernie Sanders that he needs to be the nominee because he’s better positioned to defeat Trump. If this week’s snapshot is any indication, he’s right.
No, you’re not seeing a typo here. While Hillary Clinton is inside the margin of error with The Donald, Bernie is whipping him by 13 points and that really hasn’t changed over the past month. How much of that is an indication that Bernie is really a better candidate? There are two ways to read it. The one Sanders would no doubt prefer is that he’s just the better guy for the job who appeals to the Democrats’ liberal base more. That’s possible, but there are lingering questions as to whether or not Bernie’s voters may, in significant numbers, be seriously in the #NeverHillary camp and plan on voting for Trump if she is the nominee.
We saw it in West Virginia and, more recently, in Pennsylvania as well. There are Sanders voters supporting Trump and backers of The Donald voting for Bernie. Some of it is no doubt media hype to keep things spicy, but there does seem to be some crossover in too many polls to ignore. If Trump had failed to win the nomination (or somehow still fails to do so) his voters seemed to be looking at Bernie as a second choice. And now that Bernie is all but eliminated, his supporters seem to be drifting in Trump’s direction.
It’s far too early to count on anything that counterintuitive holding up through November, but it clearly has to have Clinton’s team on edge.