HUFFPOLLSTER: Donald Trump’s Latest Controversies Split Americans Along Party Lines

Republicans’ and Democrats’ opinions differ on sexual assault allegations and whether they’re relevant to the election.

The reaction to new allegations against Donald Trump highlight deep partisan divides. A new set of polls finds Hillary Clinton ahead in key battleground states. And recent data suggests the presidential race in Texas is closer than expected. This is HuffPollster for Wednesday, October 19, 2016.

PARTISANSHIP DIVIDES REACTION TO TRUMP SCANDALS - HuffPollster: “Americans are more likely than not to consider the sexual assault allegations against Donald Trump credible, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll. But opinions are deeply divided along party lines, with many Republicans saying that, even if true, the allegations aren’t enough to disqualify him from the presidency. If the allegations are true, 44 percent of Americans say that should disqualify Trump from the presidency. Twenty-seven percent say that it would be relevant to the election, but not disqualifying, while 22 percent believe it wouldn’t be relevant to the election at all….Although 19 percent of Republicans think the claims would be disqualifying, a 39 percent plurality say that, even if it were proven that Trump sexually assaulted women, it would not be relevant to the election….Partisan divides go deeper than just the response to Trump. Feelings about the broader topic of sexual assault are also significantly polarized. As the political scientist Michael Tesler noted this week, Republicans ― especially those who supported Trump in the primaries ― were already more likely than others to believe that ‘women who complain about harassment often cause more problems than they solve.’” [HuffPost]  

Want to take a closer look at the data? - A new tool from YouGov allows you to explore polling results among different groups of respondents. Use the menu at the top to select survey questions and crosstabs, and the buttons at the bottom to filter the data by subgroups.

Allegations resonate personally for some - More from HuffPollster: “For some people, the allegations have personal implications as well as political ones. Twenty-eight percent of Americans say that they personally identify at least somewhat with the women who’ve made accusations against Trump. Among Americans who say that they’ve personally experienced a sexual assault, that number rises to 45 percent, with 31 percent saying that they feel ‘a lot’ of kinship with the women in question.”

Fewer Americans now say they care about “immoral” behavior from politicians - From PRRI and Brookings: “Compared to 2011, Americans today are more likely to say elected officials can still perform their public duties in an ethical manner even if they have committed immoral personal acts. More than six in ten (61%) Americans say immoral personal behavior does not preclude public officials from carrying out their public or professional duties with honesty and integrity; only 29 percent of the public disagree. In 2011, the public was much more divided over the connection between personal behavior and professional ethics. Forty-four percent of Americans said public officials could still conduct themselves honorably in their professional duties even if they had engaged in immoral behavior in their personal life; an equal number (44%) of Americans disagreed.” [PRRI]

FORECAST UPDATE - Hillary Clinton has a 94 percent chance of winning the presidential election. Republicans have a 59 percent chance of keeping the Senate. [Presidential forecast, Senate forecast]

The presidential race looks far less competitive than in 2012 - Clinton’s current margin over Trump, compared to Obama’s margin over Romney at this point four years ago:  

Democrats also lead on the “generic house” ballot - Voters currently say they’d prefer a Democratic congressional candidate over a Republican one by an average margin of almost 6 points, up from a near-tie in 2012 (orange/purple are 2012, red/blue are 2016): 

BATTLEGROUND STATE POLLS ARE VERY POSITIVE FOR CLINTON - Dan Balz and Scott Clement: “Among the states that have moved in Clinton’s direction since the previous [Washington Post-SurveyMonkey] 50-state survey are Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina and Wisconsin. Of those, the results in Georgia differ from the current average of all recent polls in that state. The Huffpost Pollster average in Georgia gives a Trump a four-point lead, while the SurveyMonkey poll puts Clinton ahead by four points. Texas is another state that, by historical results, should end up in Trump’s column. The SurveyMonkey results show the state splitting 44 percent for Trump to 42 percent for Clinton. The average of other public polls shows Trump with a larger, although single-digit, lead there…. The SurveyMonkey results also put Clinton in a stronger position in New Hampshire and North Carolina than other public surveys. Public polls in North Carolina show her with a low single-digit advantage. In New Hampshire, public polls show her ahead but not by the 11-point margin in these findings.” [WashPost]

What’s driving the pro-Clinton results? - The poll’s strong findings for Clinton are mostly driven by college-educated white voters, especially women, SurveyMonkey’s Mark Blumenthal told HuffPollster in an email. The poll’s estimates for likely voters don’t differ much from their registered voter model, he said. 

“National exit polls have shown Republicans winning the votes of college educated white voters for at least the last six presidential elections, with Mitt Romney’s 14-point margin the biggest since 1992,” Blumenthal wrote. “Our most recent week of national tracking gives Clinton a 20 percentage point lead (52 to 32 percent) among college educated white voters. That shift means that Clinton should be outpacing Obama’s 2012 performance in states where the percentage of college educated white voters is especially large or where the non-college white population is particularly small. As David Wasserman illustrated in his New York Times op-ed this week, states like Georgia, Virginia, Florida and North Carolina have fewer non-college white voters than other relatively competitive states.”

TEXAS LOOKS COMPETITIVE IN RECENT POLLING - HuffPollster: “Donald Trump is still winning in [Texas], but his advantage has dropped precipitously from double digits to under 5 percent in the last two weeks. The last three polls in the state show him ahead of Hillary Clinton by only 2 points in a Washington Post-SurveyMonkey poll, 3 points in a University of Houston poll and 4 points in a Survey USA/Texas Tenga poll…. A couple of earlier polls had signaled the race might be closer than expected, but there hasn’t been consistent evidence until now…. [W]hat we know about the state’s demographics reveal a lot about why Texans are reluctant to accept Trump: There’s a substantial minority population that Trump has angered, a substantial college-educated population and lots of in-migration to the state as its economy expands.” [HuffPost]

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

-Bloomberg polling released Wednesday gives Hillary Clinton a 9-point lead nationally. [Bloomberg]

-Mark Blumenthal finds that Clinton is consolidating Democrats, while Donald Trump has failed to win over more Republicans. [HuffPost]

-Carl Bialik surveys 28 pollsters, and finds the vast majority expecting a Clinton victory. [538]

-A new Arizona poll shows Clinton up by 5 points in the state.  [ASU-Cronkite]

-Rhetoric about “rigged election” may have actually increased Democrats’ confidence in their votes. [CalTech]

-Most married people think their spouses share their presidential preferences. [Pew]

-Mark Fahey and Eric Chemi note that most media pollsters aren’t getting rich off this election. [CNBC]

-Astrologers, like pollsters, think Clinton is winning. (What’s the margin of error for a horoscope?) [LA Times]