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.