New GW Battleground Poll: Voters Think Clinton Will Win

Clinton widens margins on national Issues, personality traits; voters dislike both candidates.

GW Battleground Poll
October 17, 2016

Hillary Clinton is beginning to pull away from Donald Trump in the presidential race, according to the latest George Washington University Battleground Poll in which 47 percent of likely voters surveyed chose the Democratic candidate while only 39 percent chose the Republican nominee.

Ms. Clinton gained 5 percentage points since the previous GW Battleground Poll in early September, while Trump lost 1 percentage point. Third-party candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein collectively lost 3 points, polling at 8 percent and 2 percent. Four percent of the likely voters polled were still undecided.

The poll was conducted Oct. 8-13, after a tape of Mr. Trump from “Access Hollywood” became known, and spanned the second presidential debate. The nationwide poll surveyed 1,000 registered likely voters and included a protocol for reaching mobile phone users. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

Amid the campaign milestones of the “Access Hollywood” tape and the debate, the GW Battleground Poll found a clear majority of voters—62 percent—think Ms. Clinton will win, while less than a third—27 percent—believe Mr. Trump will take the presidency.

“Read together, these poll results indicate that increasing numbers of voters are accepting the Hillary Clinton/Democratic Party frame of this election as a referendum on Donald Trump’s unfitness for the presidency,” said Michael Cornfield, associate professor at GW’s Graduate School of Political Management and research director of GW’s Center for Political Management.

“Down-ballot, it will be fascinating to watch Democrats continue to lash Republicans about Trump and to see how Republicans situate themselves with respect to him.”

Ms. Clinton’s supporters are much more confident in their choice than other candidates’ supporters polled. Of the respondents who will vote for Ms. Clinton, 89 percent believe the former secretary of state will win. Sixty percent of Trump supporters think he will win, while 27 percent of the businessman’s backers believe Ms. Clinton will win instead. Most third-party supporters believe Ms. Clinton will win (Gary Johnson voters: 72 percent; Jill Stein voters: 64).

Despite voters’ election predictions, both major-party candidates remain deeply unpopular.

More than half—53 percent—of those polled had an unfavorable view of Ms. Clinton (45 percent favorable), just less than those who viewed Mr. Trump negatively (61 percent unfavorable, 36 percent favorable).

Clinton Gets Edge on National Issues

Voters were asked to choose a top priority from a list of issues on which the next president should focus. The economy continued to lead with a plurality (23 percent) with another 10 percent choosing jobs. Dysfunction in government was chosen by 14 percent. Notably, foreign threats jumped to 13 percent (from 9 in the previous GW Battleground Poll). Health care received 10 percent of the tally.

When it came to which candidate voters believed can best address those issues, Ms. Clinton opened some wide leads.

*Tax issues—voters chose her 53 percent of the time to Mr. Trump’s 41; that signified a 4-percentage point gain by Ms. Clinton and a 6-point drop by Mr. Trump since the last GW poll.

*Foreign affairs—Mr. Trump dropped 7 points to 33 percent and Ms. Clinton gained 5 points to 60 percent, respectively.

*Health care—Ms. Clinton gained 4 points while Mr. Trump dropped 5 points, widening a 58 to 37 percent gap.

Changes to candidate preference on the economy, jobs and fighting for the middle class stayed within the margin of error.

“While Trump trails Clinton on every issue tested on the issue handling series, the Republican Party has the advantage over the Democrats on a variety of issues, including the economy by an 18-point margin, taxes by an 11-point margin, jobs by a 6-point margin and foreign affairs by an 8-point margin,” said pollster Ed Goeas, president and CEO of The Tarrance Group.

“Republican candidates across the country will be able to run with the advantage in the minds of voters on the key kitchen table issues and on one of the signature issues of the Clinton campaign, foreign affairs. With or without the active assistance of Trump, Republican candidates will be able to run as their own independent entities, whose electoral fortunes will not be tied to the sinking presidential candidate of their party.”

Candidates’ Images

As may have been expected given the events of the past week, Ms. Clinton made gains on questions of personality.

Voters were asked to choose which of the two major-party candidates better represented a slate of personal qualities. Mr. Trump lost 6 points on the question of who is more honest and trustworthy, while Ms. Clinton gained 3 points for a 33/38 split, respectively. Mr. Trump also dipped on the question of who has the best temperament to serve. Ms. Clinton won that matchup 60 percent (a gain of 3 points) to Mr. Trump’s 28 (a loss of 3).

Ms. Clinton has a marginal lead on which person is a strong leader (48 to 44 percent) and maintained leads on “cares about people like you” and “represents your values.”

Mr. Trump maintained his wide margin on “says what they believe” and took a slight lead on “is healthy enough to be effective.”

“Hillary Clinton is well-positioned to win,” said pollster Celinda Lake, president of Lake Research Partners. “She is capitalizing on Trump’s slippage with women and independents. Democrats are increasingly energized, and Democrats down-ballot are ahead as well in the generic vote. ‎Clinton has pulled ahead on issues and character, which gives her the mandate to lead the country forward.”

For complete data and results, including additional numbers on the 2016 elections and national issues, visit the GW Battleground Poll homepage. Follow @GWmedia on Twitter for a deeper dive into the new GW Battleground Poll data.


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