In a national survey conducted from Monday through Wednesday this week[†], Democrats Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine, 48%, lead Republicans Donald Trump and Mike Pence, 33%, by 15 points among registered voters in the race for the White House. 12% say they would not support either candidate if the election were held today, and 2% say they would back someone else. Five percent are undecided. Clinton has gained support while Trump has lost ground since last month’s McClatchy-Marist Poll. At that time, Clinton, 42%, and Trump, 39%, were competitive among the national electorate.
“Add a long list of unforced errors by Trump to Clinton’s post-convention bounce, and you end up with a Trump candidacy in jeopardy,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “The tale of the tape is that Trump now trails Clinton by double digits and, in contrast with Clinton, is viewed as unacceptable by the majority of the electorate.”
Democrats have coalesced around Clinton. Clinton has the backing of 90% of Democrats, up from 83% in July. However, more than one in ten Republicans does not support either Trump or Clinton. Among Republicans, 79% back Trump, down from 85%. 37% of independent voters are behind Clinton while 31% are for Trump. 20% of independents say they will not back either candidate.
Clinton has improved her standing among white voters. In the previous McClatchy-Marist Poll, Trump was ahead of Clinton by 15 points among this group, 49% to 34%. Currently, Trump and Clinton are competitive, 41% for Trump to 39% for Clinton.
Interestingly, Clinton has made gains among both college and non-college white voters. Last time, Clinton led Trump by 4 points among white voters with a college degree. Clinton is now ahead of Trump among this group by 12 points, 48% for Clinton to 36% for Trump. Clinton has also cut into Trump’s advantage among white voters without a college education. Last month, Trump outdistanced Clinton by 28 points among these voters. Now, his lead is only 15 points, 46% for Trump to 31% for Clinton.
Clinton has enhanced her standing among African American voters nationally. Clinton has the support of 93% of African Americans, a boost from 81% last time. Among Latino voters, Clinton has maintained approximately a two-to-one advantage over Trump.
Clinton has made inroads among men. She now leads Trump among men, 45% to 37%, compared with last time when she trailed Trump by 14 points. Clinton maintains her lead among women, 50% for Clinton to 30% for Trump.
Are voters supporting their choice of candidate because they are for their candidate selection or because they are against his or her opponent? 57% of Clinton’s supporters report they plan to vote for Clinton, up from 49% in July. 40% of Clinton’s backers support her because they are against Trump, down from 48%. Looking at voters behind Trump, 57% say they plan to vote for Trump because they are against Clinton. 36% report their ballot will be in support of Trump. This is little changed from last month’s findings.
Both Clinton and Trump’s favorable ratings are upside down. But, while Clinton’s favorable score has improved, Trump’s is little changed since the last McClatchy-Marist Poll. Clinton now has a net negative of 15 points, down from 25 points last time. 40% of Americans have a favorable opinion of her, and 55% currently have an unfavorable impression of Clinton. Trump has a net negative of 38 points, up from 34 points before the Republican National Convention. 28% of residents think well of Trump while 66% have a negative opinion of him.
Looking at the favorable scores of their respective running mates, both Virginia Senator Tim Kaine and Indiana Governor Mike Pence are better known than before they were selected. On the Democratic side, 35% of Americans have a positive view of Clinton’s vice presidential selection, Tim Kaine, up from 16% previously. 26% have an unfavorable impression of him. 14% have never heard of him, down from 45% pre-convention. 24% are unsure how to rate him. On the Republican side, 29% of voters have a favorable opinion of Trump’s running mate Mike Pence, up from 12 points last month. 31% have an unfavorable opinion of him an increase from 21 points last time. 17% have never heard of Pence, down from 56%, and 23% are unsure how to rate him.
When Gary Johnson, the Libertarian, and Jill Stein of the Green Party are factored into the presidential contest, Clinton, 45%, still leads Trump, 31%, by a similar 14 points among registered voters nationally. Johnson receives the support of 10% to 6% for Stein. One percent supports another candidate, and 8% are undecided. In the previous McClatchy-Marist Poll, Clinton received 40% to 35% for Trump, 10% for Johnson, and 5% for Stein.
On the issues driving the national discourse, Clinton outperforms Trump. Clinton scores best on the questions pertaining to the treatment of Muslim Americans and issues facing gay, lesbian, and transgender Americans. She is perceived weakest on the question of who would be more trusted to handle the creation of new jobs. Still, the plurality of voters, 48%, now have more faith in Clinton to handle job creation. On each of these questions, more voters say they trust Clinton, and fewer cite Trump when compared with the previous McClatchy-Marist Poll.
When it comes to a comparison of the qualities of the two candidates, Clinton also does better than Trump. More than six in ten voters, 61%, say Clinton has the experience, and a majority of voters consider Clinton to be the candidate with the temperament to be president, 57%. Pluralities of voters say Clinton is closer to them on the issues, 49%, is more likely to care about the average person, 48%, and is the one who shares their values, 46%. While 25% of the electorate report that “honest and trustworthy” describes neither Clinton nor Trump, Clinton, 37%, now surpasses Trump, 33%, on that question.
Most voters consider the stakes of this election to be high. 77% of registered voters, compared with 73% last month, say it makes a big difference if Clinton or Trump is elected in November. 12% report it makes some difference while only 7% think it makes no difference at all. In 2012, 60% of voters thought the candidate who was elected would make a big difference.
If Clinton were elected, a majority of the electorate, 53%, considers that to be either totally acceptable, 26%, or mostly acceptable, 27%. However, this is not the case for Trump. Close to six in ten voters, 59%, think it is mostly unacceptable, 13%, or totally unacceptable, 46%, if he were elected President of the United States.
How do the Democratic and Republican parties fare in the court of public opinion? 45% of voters, similar to the 44% in the previous McClatchy-Marist Poll, have a favorable impression of the Democratic Party while 48% have an unfavorable opinion of it. Last month, 51% had a negative impression of the Democratic Party. 36% of voters have a favorable opinion of the Republican Party while 56% have an unfavorable one. This is little changed from the 34% and 60%, respectively, who held these views in July.
49% of voters say that, if this November’s congressional elections were held today, they are more likely to support the Democratic candidate. 41% are more likely to back the Republican in their district. Last time, 50% said they would back the Democratic candidate while 43% were planning to support the GOP candidate.
Looking at the job approval rating of President Barack Obama, the president’s score is at its highest point in seven years. 53% of registered voters, compared with 51% last month, approve of how the president is performing in office. This is the president’s highest approval rating since October 2009 when the identical proportion of voters, 53%, thought well of his job performance.
Although most Americans are still concerned about the nation’s trajectory, more are optimistic about the direction of the nation than they were just a month ago. 34% report the country is moving in the right direction while 59% say it is moving in the wrong one. Last month, 25% of U.S. residents thought the nation was on the right course while 68% said it was moving on the incorrect path.
[†] This national survey was conducted August 1st through August 3rd, 2016