Many conventional assumptions about Donald’s Trump chance to win the Republican nomination were proven wrong when the New York real estate mogul and reality show star assured himself the nomination with his primary win in Indiana last week. By day’s end he will edge closer to the 1,237 total delegates he needs when primary voting ends in West Virginia and Nebraska.
Conventional assumptions may now have to re-calibrate as the first major swing-state poll since Trump became the GOP’s presumptive nominee shows Trump and Hillary Clinton running even in Florida and Pennsylvania, and Trump ahead in Ohio. (Trump has 1,068 delegates and no GOP opposition left.)
Released this morning, the Quinnipiac University poll, among the more accurate polling organizations, finds Clinton barely ahead, 43-42 in Florida and Pennsylvania, and Trump somewhat ahead in Ohio, 43-39. The Florida and Pennsylvania results are within the 3 percent margin of error. They’re just beyond it in the Ohio poll. All three polls were conducted with more than 1,000 voters, and are the first major sampling of voter preferences since Trump’s opponents dropped out.
“At this juncture, Trump is doing better in Pennsylvania than the GOP nominees in 2008 and 2012,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac Poll, referring to John McCain and Mitt Romney. That suggests Trump is pulling in blue-collar votes that McCain and Romney did not. “And the two candidates are about where their party predecessors were at this point in Ohio and Florida.” (McCain and Romney ended up losing Ohio and Florida.)
But there are caveats: while the Republican contest is over, with Trump the decided winner, the Democratic contest is not. Bernie Sanders has almost no chance of reversing Clinton’s momentum and winning the Democratic nomination. But as far as primary voters are concerned, Sanders is still very much in the race, he is still winning some of the contests. He is expected to continue to pull votes as his strategy shifts from a contender for the nomination to a tactician for influence between now and November, and in a presumptive Clinton administration. So Democratic votes are not all spoken for, and Sanders’s continued presence in the primaries may be dampening support for Clinton.
Another caveat: the poll’s methodology shows that in net, unweighted number, Quinnipiac interviewed in Florida 371 Republicans to 306 Democrats, and 559 men to 492 women (all of which the weighted results are designed to account for), while the poll sampled registered, but not necessarily likely, voters.
Both Trump and Clinton are extremely polarizing, with gender, race and age big factors in voters’ preferences. And they’re not liked. In Florida, Clinton and Trump each get a negative 37-57 percent favorability rating.
But Clinton has a certain edge: “By wide margins, voters in all three states say Clinton is more intelligent than Trump and by smaller margins, voters in all three states say she has higher moral standards,” Brown said.
Ultimately, however, intelligence is not as much a factor, for voters, as other factors. “The gender gap is massive and currently benefits Trump,” Brown said. “In Pennsylvania, Clinton’s 19-point lead among women matches Trump’s 21-point margin among men. In Ohio, she is up 7 points among women but down 15 points with men. In Florida she is up 13 points among women but down 13 points among men.”
“Trump would do a better job handling the economy, voters say. He also would do a better job handling terrorism, voters in Florida and Ohio say. Pennsylvania voters are divided.”
In Florida specifically, Independent voters, who tend to decide all statewide elections, are divided 39-39 percent. White voters go Republican 52-33 percent, while non-white voters go Democratic 63-20 percent. Voters 18 to 34 years old back Clinton 49-27 percent, while voters over 65 years old back Trump 50-37 percent.