In the race for the White House, presumptive nominees, Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump, are in a tight battle for Iowa’s 6 and Ohio’s 18 electoral votes. In Pennsylvania, Clinton is currently well-positioned to carry the Keystone State’s 20 electoral votes. In 2008 and 2012, President Barack Obama won each of these three states.
In Iowa, three points separate Clinton, 42%, and Trump, 39%, among registered voters statewide. The contest has tightened since January when Clinton had an eight point advantage over Trump. Among registered voters in Iowa who say they definitely plan to vote, one point separates Clinton and Trump.
In Ohio, Clinton and Trump are tied among the statewide electorate at 39%. Here, too, the contest has become more competitive. In March, Clinton was ahead of Trump by 6 points among registered voters in Ohio. Among registered voters in Ohio who say they definitely plan to vote, the margin between Clinton and Trump is 3 points.
In Pennsylvania, Clinton, 45%, leads Trump, 36%, by 9 points in the hunt for the state’s 20 electoral votes. This is down from the 15 point lead Clinton had in April’s NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist Poll. Among registered voters in Pennsylvania who say they definitely plan to vote, Clinton maintains her 9 point advantage.
“The good news for Hillary Clinton is that she is still even or ahead of Donald Trump in these three critical states in the aftermath of the FBI’s report on her email controversy,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “The bad news for her is the contest has gotten closer in all of these states, and the issue does not seem to be going away anytime soon.”
In all three states, Clinton and Trump maintain the support of their respective party’s base. Among independents, there is little consensus. In fact, neither Clinton nor Trump has a double-digit lead among independent voters in any of these three states. More than one-quarter of independents are still shopping for a presidential candidate to support when given a choice between Clinton and Trump.
A gender gap exists in all three states with Clinton outperforming Trump among women, and Trump leading, or strongly competitive with Clinton among men. While nearly half of women voters in Iowa, 49%, support Clinton, 48% of men are for Trump. The scenario is similar in in Ohio where 47% of female voters favor Clinton compared with 47% of male voters who support Trump. In Pennsylvania, 49% of women back Clinton. However, men divide, 42% for Trump to 41% for Clinton. Also of note, pluralities of white voters without a college degree in Iowa, 43%, Ohio, 49%, and Pennsylvania, 43%, support Trump while pluralities of white voters with a college education in Iowa, 44%, Ohio, 39%, and Pennsylvania, 47%, are for Clinton.
When Libertarian Gary Johnson and Jill Stein of the Green Party are included in the general election contest, Clinton and Trump remain competitive in Iowa and Ohio, and Clinton maintains her single-digit advantage in Pennsylvania.
Clinton and Trump are not well liked by a majority of residents, and their favorable ratings are upside down in all three states. Majorities of adults in Iowa, 59%, Ohio, 60%, and Pennsylvania, 54%, have an unfavorable opinion of Clinton. Trump’s negatives are also high. More than six in ten residents in Iowa, 62%, Ohio, 61%, and Pennsylvania, 62%, perceive Trump unfavorably.
Turning to the U.S. Senate, in Iowa, Republican incumbent Chuck Grassley, 52%, leads his Democratic opponent, Patty Judge, 42%, by 10 points among registered voters statewide. However, Republican incumbents Rob Portman of Ohio and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania are in tight contests against their Democratic challengers. In Ohio, Portman and Democrat Tom Strickland are tied at 44% among the Ohio electorate. In Pennsylvania, 47% of registered voters statewide support Democrat Katie McGinty while 44% are for Toomey.
Residents in Iowa and Ohio divide about the job performance of President Barack Obama. In Iowa, 45% of Iowans approve of how the president is doing his job while 43% disapprove. President Obama’s approval rating has improved in the Hawkeye State. At the end of January, 42% of residents approved of the president’s job performance while 50% disapproved. In Ohio, 44% of residents approve of how the president is doing his job while 44% do not. Ohio adults divided, 45% to 48%, when the NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist Poll last reported this question in March.
President Obama fares best in Pennsylvania where 49% of adults statewide approve of his job performance while 41% disapprove. In April, residents divided with 49% saying they approved of how Mr. Obama was performing in his role. 46%, at that time, disapproved.