HUFFPOLLSTER: Clinton Leads Nationally, But Struggles In Some Battleground States

Voters continue to be divided by race and education.

New national polls show the presidential race close, but Clinton remains consistently ahead. Ohio, Florida and Nevada are all definitely still battleground states. And most Americans would pay $1 a month to help combat global climate change. This is HuffPollster for Thursday, September 15, 2016.

NEW NATIONAL POLLS FIND CLINTON MAINTAINING HER LEAD, BUT WITH A SMALLER MARGIN - Quinnipiac University: “In a largely negative presidential campaign, where most Americans are voting against, rather than for, a candidate, Democrat Hillary Clinton leads Republican Donald Trump 48 - 43 percent among likely voters nationwide, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released [Wednesday]. This compares to a 51 - 41 percent Clinton lead in an August 25 survey of likely voters nationwide, by the independent Quinnipiac University….Independent voters tip to Trump 45 - 40 percent. Republicans go to Trump 86 - 10 percent, while Democrats back Clinton 92 - 4 percent. Voting for Clinton is the lesser of two evils, 38 percent of her supporters say, while 57 percent say she is the candidate they like. Among Trump supporters, 50 percent say they are picking the lesser of two evils, while 46 percent say he is the candidate they like. A total of 70 percent of likely voters say it is ‘very important’ or ‘somewhat important’ that the next president be someone to whom they can relate. But by similar margins, most American voters can’t relate to either candidate. Voters say 61 - 36 percent they can’t relate to Clinton and 64 - 34 percent they can’t relate to Trump. “ [Quinnipiac]

CBS/NYT also finds an increasingly tight race - Sarah Dutton, Jennifer DePinto, Fred Backus and Anthony Salvanto: “With the first debate less than two weeks away, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are in a tight race for the presidency nationally. Clinton has just a 2-point edge in a two-way match-up among likely voters. The race is tied when third party candidates are included. Among the broader electorate of registered voters, Clinton leads Trump by five points. One disadvantage for Clinton is diminished voter enthusiasm. Democrats are less enthusiastic about voting now than they were in August.” [CBS]

Breakdowns by demographic show where Trump and Clinton are strongest - More from CBS: “A look at the candidates’ demographic support also illustrates why the race is close. A gender gap remains: Trump has a double-digit lead over Clinton among men, while Clinton is ahead by a similar margin among women. Trump continues to struggle with African American voters but has an advantage over Clinton among whites. Whites without a college degree are strong supporters of Trump (58 percent back him), while Clinton leads Trump among white voters with a college degree. Clinton is ahead of Trump among voters under 30 but she is not getting the level of support Barack Obama received in 2012. 48 percent of young voters are currently backing her, while Obama won 60 percent of the young vote in 2012. Only 29 percent of young voters are supporting Trump, but 21 percent say they’ll vote for someone else or won’t vote.”

What the average says - Clinton’s lead over Trump has shrunk to less than 4 percentage points in the HuffPost Pollster aggregate. Clinton leads in eight of the 10 most recent national polls, but by narrower margins than in August. In polls that include Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson as an option, Clinton’s lead is similar.

The patterns of polls narrowing during the fall campaign is familiar. For comparison, President Barack Obama was up by 4.1 points over Republican nominee Mitt Romney on Sept. 15, 2012 ― and that was as wide as his margin got. Obama’s edge narrowed to within half a percentage point in mid-October before widening to 1.5 points on Election Day. In 2008, the polls were also close through mid-September before the economic crash that spurred an Obama surge over Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). 

OHIO AND FLORIDA ARE SHAPING UP TO BE TRUE BATTLEGROUNDS - HuffPollster: “Ohio and Florida are both looking like close races in this year’s presidential election, according to new polling released Wednesday that gives Donald Trump the edge in both states. Polls from both Bloomberg Politics and CNN in Ohio give Trump a 5-point lead over Hillary Clinton….A second CNN poll, in Florida, finds Trump up by 3 points, 47 percent to 44 percent, with Johnson taking 6 percent and Stein 1 percent. In a head-to-head, Trump leads by 4 points.…. In Florida, polls of head-to-head matchups taken since the beginning of September have all shown fairly narrow margins, ranging between a 2-point lead for Clinton and a 3-point lead for Trump. HuffPost Pollster’s model, reflecting a set of far better results for Clinton during August, puts her over Trump by just under 3 points, although that’s likely to drop if other surveys confirm CNN’s results. In Ohio, recent polls have shown everything from a 7-point Clinton lead to a 5-point Trump advantage, but four of the five newest surveys give the edge to Trump. HuffPost Pollster’s model shows Trump and Clinton effectively tied at about 43 percent.” [HuffPost]

The situation in Nevada is similar - A new Monmouth University poll out on Wednesday showed Trump leading by 2 points among likely voters in Nevada. The last poll to indicate Trump leading was from late July. But since Clinton’s leads in August polls were small, often only a point or two, the HuffPost Pollster average only has her leading Trump by about half a percentage point. [Monmouth

AMERICANS ARE WILLING TO PAY A LITTLE TO HELP COMBAT CLIMATE CHANGE - Seth Borenstein: “Most Americans are willing to pay a little more each month to fight global warming — but only a tiny bit, according to a new poll. Still, environmental policy experts hail that as a hopeful sign. Seventy-one percent want the federal government to do something about global warming, including 6 percent who think the government should act even though they are not sure that climate change is happening, according to a poll conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago. And those polled said they’d be willing to foot a little of that cost in higher electric bills. If the cost of fighting climate change is only an additional $1 a month, 57 percent of Americans said they would support that. But as that fee goes up, support for it plummets. At $10 a month, 39 percent were in favor and 61 percent opposed. At $20 a month, the public is more than 2-to-1 against it. And only 1-in-5 would support $50 a month.” [AP]

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THURSDAY’S ‘OUTLIERS’ - Links to the best of news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:

-Kathy Frankovic finds no indication in the latest Economist/YouGov poll that Hillary Clinton’s pneumonia diagnosis hurt her numbers. [YouGov]

-Larry Sabato, Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley take a comprehensive look at the state of the presidential race. [Sabato’s Crystal Ball]

-Ronald Brownstein looks at Hillary Clinton’s challenge to win over millennials. [Atlantic]

-David Wasserman lays out a scenario where Donald Trump could lose the popular vote but win the White House. [538]

-Laura Vozzella and Emily Guskin note that most Virginians voters don’t know anyone backing their chosen candidate’s opponent. [WashPost]

-Voters far overestimate the likelihood of voter fraud. [WashPost]

-Trust in the mass media is at a new low. [Gallup]