Focus Group & Further Polls Show Clinton Could Have Difficulty Beating Trump

Trump Sanders Clinton

Bernie Sanders is projected to win the West Virginia primary, and additional polls out today showed that he would make the stronger candidate against Donald Trump. Public Policy Polling shows Clinton in a very tight race with Trump, with Clinton losing support to the likely Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson and likely Green Party candidate Jill Stein:

PPP’s new national poll finds that Republicans have quickly unified around Donald Trump, making the Presidential race more competitive than it has previously been perceived to be.

Hillary Clinton leads Trump 42-38, with Libertarian Gary Johnson at  4% and Green Party candidate Jill Stein at 2%. In a match up just between Clinton and Trump, her lead expands to 47-41. That’s because supporters of Johnson and Stein would prefer her over Trump 36-18. Although there’s been a lot of talk about third party candidates drawing support away from Trump, they’re actually taking a little bit more from Clinton at this point…

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.

The undecideds in a Clinton-Trump match up right now support Sanders 41-8 in a match up with Trump, so the bad news for Clinton is that she has work to do to win over a certain segment of Sanders supporters in the general, but the good news is that they are at least somewhat Democratic leaning and she has the potential to increase her advantage over Trump by a couple points if she is eventually able to get them in her corner. Democrats lead a generic question about which party people would vote for President 49-41, so that may be somewhat of a forecast for where the race could be headed if/when Sanders supporters unify around Clinton for the general.

It remains to be seen how many Sanders supporters will vote for Clinton versus voting third party or staying home. While there has been talk of Donald Trump losing Republican voters to third parties, pundits often ignore the fact that Clinton’s views are further from the mainstream of her party than Trump’s views, making it likely that there will be Democratic voters who will not vote for Clinton under any circumstance. While the numbers backing third party candidates are small, this could be enough to cost Clinton the victory in a close election.

I find the views of both Stein and Johnson to be far preferable to the views of either major party candidate from the authoritarian right segment of the political spectrum. While unlikely, there has been more talk recently of an even better third party candidate–Bernie Sanders.

Sanders still hopes to be the Democratic candidate, having an increasingly strong argument that he is more likely than Hillary Clinton to beat Donald Trump. In addition to the Public Policy poll above, a new Quinnipiac poll shows Clinton in a tight race in three key battleground states–Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Sanders does better than Clinton in all three states.

With a campaign between Clinton and Trump expected to be a battle to get votes to fear and hate the other major party candidate more, The Washington Post reports that Democratic focus groups are showing that swing voters are not believing the Democratic arguments against Trump. Bloomberg points out that, compared to Obama, Clinton has serious negatives in such a battle:

Clinton has been subjected to a quarter century of political and personal attacks, many of them vicious, more than a few outlandish. For every smear of President Barack Obama as a Kenyan anticolonial socialist or terrorist enabler, Clinton can probably cite two similarly inspired delusions — that she killed White House aide Vincent Foster or, for reasons no one ever seems able to explain, that she preferred to let a handful of Americans die in Benghazi rather than use her powers as secretary of State to protect them.

But the differences between Obama and Clinton are at least as telling as the similarities. More than half of Americans consistently have rated Obama “honest and trustworthy” during his presidency. Of nine Gallup measurements taken between 2008 and 2015, Obama fell below 50 percent only once, in 2014. In April 2008, the spring of his first campaign for president, 60 percent of Gallup respondents said Obama was honest and trustworthy.

By contrast, in a March 2016 Washington Post/ABC News poll, 37 percent of adults agreed that Hillary Clinton is honest and trustworthy, and 57 percent said they don’t think she is. Even Democrats aren’t sold. In Wisconsin, where Bernie Sanders defeated her on April 5, exit polls showed only 57 percent of Democratic voters rated her honest and trustworthy. Two weeks later in her home state of New York, which she won, only 60 percent of Democrats leaving the polls said she was honest and trustworthy.

Neither Sanders in 2016, nor Obama in 2008, aggressively attacked Clinton’s integrity. She finds herself in this hole as a result of conservative attacks on her and of doubts she raised by her own actions. History weighs on her.

Of course fact checkers have also demonstrated a large number of false statements coming from Trump. Trump beats Clinton in terms of number of falsehoods, but there is a major difference between the two. Trump tends to make up facts regarding policy matters. In contrast, Clinton’s lies tend to be to either cover up unethical actions and as part of a Rovian style smear campaign against political opponents. I suspect that Clinton’s type of dishonesty might be a more serious issue should the presidential campaign come down to character.


  1. 1
    Bob Munck says:

    Clinton’s views are further from the mainstream of her party than Trump’s views — Ron Chusid


  2. 2
    Philo Vaihinger says:

    Il Duce might well beat her, but he might well beat Bernie.

    If Bernie is the nominee the entire GOP will finally unify behind Trump, and all of them will savagely red-bait the man.

    Hannity and others on the right are already doing it now and again, though actually rather gently, but Trump is very nearly not doing it at all and will not unless Bernie is his opponent, because he wants to win over as many as he can of Bernie's voters if Hillary is the nominee.

    If Bernie is nominated the onslaught of red baiting will be like nothing so far seen in this primary season, and it will hurt Bernie and down ticket Democrats very, very badly.

    And that MSNBC "we are all socialists, now" bullshit (O'Donnell and Maddow) will not help because we are most definitely not all socialists now.

  3. 3
    Mike Hatcher says:

    Philo- I agree with you that if Bernie wins the Primary, that there will be a constant onslaught by the opposition against Bernie's label of "socialist', but I don't see that attack as either unifying or motivating the opposition to any greater extent than they already are.  One reason they (we-as I self identify as conservative/libertarian) would rely so heavily on that attack is that other than that "label" it is hard to attack Bernie since he is so likeable. And as it has been said on this site before, virtually all those who are or would be against Bernie for being a socialist were likely stanchly against any Democrat anyway, thus not really a factor.

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    Philo, Republicans are far more unified in hating Hillary Clinton than they are in opposing Bernie. Polls (along with a lot of anecdotal evidence from people I know) show that there are a fair number of Republicans who would vote for Sanders but not Clinton.

    The red baiting means little when the type of people who fall for it also think that Clinton and Obama are far left. They have called Obama a Marxist for years. Clinton’s red-baiting also hasn’t helped her the primaries.

  5. 5
    Ron Chusid says:


    I’m giving most Democratic voters the benefit of the doubt here. I don’t think most are as far right on foreign policy, civil liberties, social/cultural issues, and on opposing open government as Clinton is. Trump’s views are definitely different from the typical Republican views in some ways, but there are also many similarities between Trump and the Republican base.

  6. 6
    Bob Munck says:

    I’m giving most Democratic voters the benefit of the doubt here.

    No, you're giving your rage and hatred of Hillary Clinton the ability to cloud your judgment. Both of her and of Trump.

  7. 7
    Ron Chusid says:

    It is not a matter of rage and hatred re Clinton. It is a matter of disagreeing with her on virtually every issue and objecting to her dishonesty and her corruption in office.

    I’m well aware of your sycophantic views re Clinton, but I’m not sure where you disagree with me re Trump? You don’t think that he shares many views with the GOP base, including his racism and xenophobia?

  8. 8
    Ron Chusid says:

    Or are you back to your old tricks, Bob, as your partial quote suggests a significantly different statement than what is actually said in context?

  9. 9
    JimZ says:

    Trump is a known quantity to everyone, in the sense that he's already said every damn thing that could, under previous political rules, disqualify a candidate (& which, of course, haven't).  It appears to me that Clinton's stuff just keeps unfolding and there is a sickening impression that they will continue to do so right up until election day.

  10. 10
    Ron Chusid says:

    You would think that everything is already out on Clinton, yet new stuff does continue to come out. I don't know how much new stuff there will still be, but quite a bit has come out in terms of scandals which Sanders didn't use but Trump sure will.

    Plus we have learned more about her record. There was a time when I might have voted for her as the lesser of two evils, but as more has come out regarding her views on Libya and Syria her foreign policy positions are also disqualifying.

    Who knows what positions either will take by fall. Both are willing to say anything to get votes.  Trump is already to the left of Clinton on some issues and I wouldn't be surprised if by fall he is the more liberal candidate.

  11. 11
    Mike Hatcher says:

    Ron, I'm in such strong agreement with you saying both are willing to say anything to get votes. That make it a real crap shoot with those two. (Pun intended and emphasized.)

  12. 12
    Ron Chusid says:

    The left and right might disagree on a lot of things, but we can both agree that neither major party candidate is fit to be president, or in any other elected office. Giving a choice between Clinton and Trump is a total failure of the system.

  13. 13
    Mike Hatcher says:

    Just to pile on, another thing that seems apparent is both these candidates provide their opponents with a seemingly bottomless supply of dirt for them to be smeared. Just this morning I see an MSN story connecting Clinton Charity giving money to a "for profit" business run by a friend of Bill Clinton. How unsurprising is that. Of course to be fair, of the candidate tax returns I've seen, Hillary's is the only one that I saw actually donating over 10% of her income to charity. And the charity that got virtually every dollar of her donations, Clinton Foundation.  Funny how virtually everything that goes out of her pocket seems to come right back in.

  14. 14
    Ron Chusid says:

    You aren’t piling on. The one trying to pile on is Bob Munck who commented above, and has other comments deleted. It is very rare that I don’t put through someone’s comments and Bob very well has the record for most posts deleted here (other than for spammers). Bob can’t stand someone expressing views he disagrees with, and has trolled me both at The Moderate Voice when I cross posted there, and then followed me here. He, and other Clinton supporters, turned the comments there into a cesspool and I’m not going to allow him to do it here.

    Back on topic, interesting numbers about Clinton. While it is obviously admirable to donate money to charity, I don’t pay any attention to the numbers. I’m not going to vote for a candidate I don’t like based upon being more charitable, or refrain from voting for a candidate I do like if they don’t contribute to charity. Somehow I’m not surprised to read that most of Clinton’s contributions go to the Foundation.

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