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Thursday, December 14, 2017

A new poll shows Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump virtually tied in three crucial swing states, news that should worry the Clinton campaign as Trump consolidates his control over the Republican Party. The new poll numbers are a reversal of the lead Clinton has maintained throughout most of the primary season in those states.

The latest poll by Quinnipiac University shows Clinton beating Trump by one point in Florida and Pennsylvania and has Trump ahead by four points in Ohio. Nevertheless, polling averages remain in Clinton’s favor. She has maintained a four-point lead in Florida, three points in Ohio, and seven points in Pennsylvania during this election cycle.

But the race-baiting billionaire’s victory over his rivals in the Republican primary race has given him the advantage of consolidating the party base while the Democratic Party remains divided between Clinton and Bernie Sanders. That could partially explain the bump in Trump’s polling numbers.

The Quinnipiac poll also raised questions about Clinton’s own ability to take on Trump in the general election. He lost in a hypothetical match-up to Sanders by larger margins, a talking point the Sanders campaign has used for months at this point, and will likely further seize on as the Democratic nomination race drags on.

Asides from polling within the margin of error in these states, the report has little evidence of an improved perception of Trump among American voters. Respondents trusted Clinton’s ability to handle an international crisis far more than Trump. More than half of all respondents in the three states trusted Clinton, who has emphasized the breadth of experience she would bring to the White House if elected, whereas Trump barely broke the 30 percent threshold. The same margins bore out when respondents were asked who was the more intelligent candidate.

But a separate poll from Public Policy Polling revealed that Republicans have consolidated around Trump a lot faster than some expected. The report said that “72% of Republicans now say they’re comfortable with Trump as their nominee to only 21% who they aren’t.” Those numbers don’t bode well for the supporters of the #NeverTrump movement, whose leaders became increasingly vocal critics of Trump as he got closer to securing the Republican nomination. Nor do they bode well for Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee, who will have to reach out to the sizable number of Sanders supporters who now comprise a little under half of party’s voters.

However, despite her leading him in the polls, the report indicates that Sanders would be a stronger candidate than Clinton in a Trump match-up, mainly due to the Vermont senator’s ability to draw young voters out to the polls.

Bernie Sanders continues to do the best in general election match ups, leading Trump 47-37 with Johnson at 3% and Stein at 1% in the full field, and leading Trump 50-39 head to head. The difference between how Clinton and Sanders fare against Trump comes almost completely among young people. In the full field Clinton leads 46-24, but Sanders leads 64-18 with voters between 18 and 29. In one on ones with Trump, Clinton leads 49-27, but Sanders leads 70-14.

Nevertheless, the poll shows that most of these younger voters are Democratic-leaning, and so convincing them to support Clinton, should she be the Democratic nominee, won’t be as difficult as it would be for Trump, who espouses social and political views that young voters simply don’t share. Trump has the lowest approval ratings of any of the remaining presidential candidates among millennial voters, with a net approval rating of (-57).

“Hillary Clinton certainly is favored to win the Presidential race this fall,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling, in the report. “But it might not be the giant blowout it’s been made out to be in some quarters. Donald Trump has quickly gotten most rank-and-file Republican voters behind him and that has him positioned as a modest underdog for the general rather than a massive one.”

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